The Montpelier estate was formed in 1723 when Ambrose Madison, President James Madison's grandfather, and his brother-in-law, Thomas Chew, were deeded 4,675 acres in the newly opened Piedmont of Virginia. To receive final title, he had three years to clear the land and build a house.
For more than 120 years – from 1723 until 1844 when Dolley Madison sold the property – the Madisons owned Montpelier. Montpelier was the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, architect of the Bill of Rights, and fourth president of the United States. It was here that he read, researched, and thought more deeply about our republican form of government than any other Founding Father.
Today Montpelier has nearly 2,700 acres of rolling pastures, lawns, gardens, and woods in the heart of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. The estate began as a working plantation, home to three generations of Madisons, including tobacco fields, a farm complex, slave quarters, a blacksmith shop, barns — everything a working farm would have needed. The landscape changed over the years through a variety of owners, and the latest private owners, the duPonts, added a formal garden and ornamental trees, and various outbuildings, including farm houses, a laundry, a greenhouse, and a bowling alley.
Today, visitors can stand in the Temple where James Madison contemplated the republic, view the site of the original Madison home, stroll the Annie duPont Formal Garden, hike the old-growth James Madison Landmark Forest, or walk to the Civil War trail—all within Montpelier grounds.