Madison's Montpelier

This weekend wasn't too eventful--my next three weeks are jam-packed with both social events as well as schoolwork, so I intentionally left this weekend free to relax and prepare for the coming weeks.  I did, however, do a little shopping and have a field trip to Montpelier (James Madison's home) on Saturday.

When shopping, I found a great Vineyard Vines skirt (which will be perfect for teaching) on sale at Belk and two tops at J.Crew.

my purchases

I woke up to a dreary day on Saturday, but decided to make the most of my field trip despite the weather.  The first stop of our field trip was Gilmore Cabin.  The Gilmore Cabin was built by George Gilmore at Montpelier after emancipation (circa 1870).  His land was leased from James Madison's nephew.  In 1901, the Gilmores purchased the 16 acres of land and members of the Gilmore family lived on the farm until the early 1930s.  It is the first restored freedman's home in the United States.

Gilmore Cabin

upstairs where the children would have slept

Our next stop was the Montpelier Train Depot.  This train depot was built in 1910 by the duPont family who owned Montpelier from 1901-1983.  The train depot was built during segregation and is an example of what life was like during the era of Jim Crow laws.  I have learned about segregation and Jim Crow laws since elementary school and have always known how inherently wrong segregation was, however, seeing up close what it was like really had an effect on me.  From the outside it appears the "White" and "Colored" sides of the depot are equal in size, however the "Colored" side is only about a quarter of the size of the "White" side. Additionally, the depot had a post office, and whites could retrieve their mail inside, while blacks had to get it from outside.

Allie at the Train Depot

Our last stop of the day was Montpelier estate.  It was BEAUTIFUL!  When the duPonts owned Montpelier they changed it from the traditional brick to pink stucco.  On Constitution Day (September 17) in 2008, after a five year, $24 million restoration project, Montpelier in its original state was revealed.

Pink Montpelier..I must say, I am a big fan of that blue door!

Restored Montpelier

Our tour of the house was very interesting.  My favorite tidbit from the day was learning about how influential Dolley Madison was.  Our tour guide shared a story of how she was greatly responsible for her husband's re-election, which I will now share with you.  During Madison's term he was attacked by the press and became unpopular.  Dolley decided to take matters into her own hands:  Being quite the socialite, she began holding tea parties at the White House.  It was a huge honor to be invited to these tea parties and women were just dying for an invite!  Those invited would bring their husbands along (who then would get the chance to mingle with the president).  During this time they would see that Madison was not the horrible man the papers portrayed him to be and ultimately he was re-elected.  Dolley was so loved that she eventually became the first woman to be awarded an honorary seat in Congress.

Statue of Dolley and James on the back lawn.

Before heading out we toured the Madison Gardens and stopped by the gift shop where I found the cutest blue and white bunny for just $12.95!

Even on a dreary day, the flowers were lovely!

The bunny is perfect for Easter!

I also really wanted this book in the giftshop, but figured I could get it cheaper on Amazon.

Do you have any favorite historic sites?  What did you do this weekend?