Explore 1764

1764: A New Georgian Home for a Family on the Rise

Built in ca. 1764 by President Madison's father, James Madison, Sr., the original form of Montpelier was typical of gentry class housing in Virginia at the time. Based on a standard plan organized around a central passage and flanked on either side by two rooms (also called a double-pile plan), Madison, Sr.'s house was one of the largest houses in Virginia's Piedmont frontier when it was built. A political as well as social statement, the house stood as a testament to Madison, Sr.'s standing in the community and his ambitions for his family. The mansion was also constructed in what is often called the Georgian style of architecture and important elements on the exterior include the symmetrical fa├žade, the relatively simple ornamentation, and the rubbed, lighter colored bricks found above the windows and at the edges of the building. On the interior, the extensive use of wood paneling in the more public rooms as well as the division of the rooms into functionally distinct spaces and the use of classically inspired moldings also help to mark the ca. 1764 version of Montpelier as a Georgian-styled house.