Madison Farm Complex

Madison Farm Complex (HMFY2)

Location: Orange, VA 22960 Orange County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 13.019', W 78° 10.181'

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1760s - 1840s

In the fields in front of you, archaeologists have found the extremely well-preserved remains of James Madison's plantation farm complex, which served as the hub of the working farm and the home for several generations of field slaves. This complex, part of an area known as the "Home Quarter," included slave quarters, tobacco barns, an overseer's house, and work yards. After Dolley Madison sold Montpelier in 1844, the structures here were abandoned. This photograph includes an artists rendering of how these structures might have appeared, based on archaeological finds.

1880s Log Home near Petersburg, Virginia
Houses for Montpelier field slave families would have looked much like the one above. Their homes were made of logs, with dirt floors, simple plank shutters to shut out the weather, and chimneys made of sticks and mud. The slaves built the homes themselves, receiving only nails and door hardware from the Madisons. The crude homes of the field slaves stand in marked contrast to the much better homes of the house slaves, which included glazed windows, wooden floors, and brick chimneys, and were built within sight of the Montpelier mansion.

Ceramics, Glass, and Personal Items Recovered from the Home of a Family of Field Slaves
Both field and house slaves obtained most of their household items from local markets and by trading. But the difference in their status is confirmed by archaeological remains, which show that field slaves had fewer and poorer-quality ceramics, tableware, and clothing than house slaves. Field slaves had less money, probably because they had less free time and fewer opportunities to produce and sell marketable goods.
HM NumberHMFY2
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 26th, 2014 at 11:43am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 747784 N 4233678
Decimal Degrees38.21698333, -78.16968333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 13.019', W 78° 10.181'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 13' 1.14" N, 78° 10' 10.86" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 12000 Coney Island Rd, Orange VA 22960, US
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