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During the 1840s renovations to Montpelier all of the chair rails were removed. All but two small fragments of the Madison-era chair rails which had been found re-used as nailers during the restoration, were discarded. Later, in 1901, the duPonts reinstalled chair rails in many of the rooms when they undertook their renovations. While these chair rails were well crafted and good examples of Colonial-Revival style trim, they were removed during the restoration because they did not accurately represent the chair rails that Madison would have installed. With only a couple fragments of the Madison chair rails surviving it would seem that accurately recreating and restoring the Madison-era chair rails was an impossible task. However, by the end of the Restoration 80% of the rooms in the Mansion had chair rails that were copies of the original Madison-era chair rails. How did the Restoration Team uncover and accurately restore these ca. 1764 chair rails?


The Old Library before the Restoration. The duPonts never installed chair rails in this room, but the patch of lighter colored plaster found approximately three feet above the floor revealed where the wooden nailers were located.