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1797: Expanding Montpelier to Hold a New Family

The addition that President Madison built in ca. 1797 would transform Montpelier into a Classical Revival-style house that reflected the influence that Thomas Jefferson had on Madison's architectural ideals. Specifically, the monumental two-story, Tuscan-style portico that was inspired by the works of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio clearly marks the building as Classical Revival. However, parts of the exterior and the interior deviate from Classical Revival and conform more closely to the Federal style of architecture that was dominant at the turn of the 19th century. Exterior elements include the tall, narrow windows while on the interior the simple, light staircase and relatively narrow window and door trim reveal the influence of the Federal style. Additionally, the interior room arrangement of the ca. 1797 addition helps to differentiate it from the earlier Georgian period. Unlike the ca. 1764 house, which had the Parlor serving as the principal public space, in President Madison's ca. 1797 addition the dining room is largest and, at least in his plans, the most highly decorated space.