As a born and bred Pittsburgher, and YPA member myself I am excited to share with this community a unique opportunity for some hands on preservation not too far from home! Only a five-hour drive south of Pittsburgh, Orange, Virginia provides a scenic backdrop for individuals interested in learning more about traditional log building, the life and home of our fourth president, and the often overlooked history of the enslaved African Americans that lived and worked at Montpelier.
Montpelier, James Madison’s estate was home to not only James and Dolley, but his aging parents, countless guests, and as many as 100 enslaved individuals. Unfortunately, only two buildings from James’s life remain; the main house, and Mr. Madison’s garden temple. In an effort to more accurately represent the landscape during James and Dolley’s lifetime, and provide the public with a physical structure marking the sites of enslaved households, Montpelier’s LEARN reconstruction programs were born.
LEARN is the logo and acronym for the public programs held at Montpelier. Standing for Locate, Excavate, Analyze, Reconstruct and Network, these week long programs provide an opportunity for members of the public to stay on Montpelier’s property for a week, and work alongside archaeologists and historians to help interpret the vast history at Montpelier.