Log Cabin Workshop at James Madison’s Montpelier

Event Details

Log Cabin Workshop at James Madison’s Montpelier

Time: October 29, 2017 at 6pm to November 4, 2017 at 9am
Location: James Madison's Montpelier
Street: 11350 Constitution Hwy
City/Town: Montpelier Station
Website or Map: https://www.montpelier.org/vi…
Phone: 5406722728x167
Event Type: workshop
Organized By: Elizabeth Sweeny
Latest Activity: Jul 13, 2017

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Event Description

Learn 19th century construction from Montpelier’s master craftsmen and preservationists as you work to recreate a slave quarter from the Madison period

Project Description:

Montpelier, James Madison's plantation was home to not only James and Dolley, but also his aging parents, countless guests, and as many as 100 enslaved individuals.  Unfortunately, the house and garden temple are the only two buildings from Madison’s life that remain.  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 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. 

The Log Cabin School is especially exciting because it involves the reconstruction component in LEARN.  This program is designed to put historically appropriate tools in the student’s hands, and work side-by-side with master craftsmen and historians to help recreate one of the log cabin quarters at Montpelier.  Because the quarters have long since been demolished, their locations were discovered through archaeology.  During the week, students gain a full understanding of how archaeology can inform the design of the buildings.  Lectures and tours presented by the Historic Preservation and Archaeology staff provide the history of the property and buildings, so that participants learn the broader context of the site they are working on.  The bulk of the course is hands on log building, and the result is a ghost structure that acts as a reminder of the countless cabins that housed the enslaved families at Montpelier.


All are welcome to attend, no previous experience necessary. A parent or guardian must accompany participants under the age of 18.

What: During the program students will:

  • Learn traditional, 19th century log building techniques using hand tools.
  • Learn modern adaptations of these techniques for those interested in building their own cabin one day.
  • Attend lectures and tours about the site, history, and broader context of the cabin they are recreating.
  • Contribute to the interpretive built environment at James Madison’s Montpelier!

Where:  Orange, Virginia.  Situated in the picturesque Piedmont region, Montpelier is a short drive away from other historic and natural sites like Monticello, Mount Vernon, and Shenandoah National Park.  Students will be housed on property, in a dormitory-style rehabilitated antebellum house.

When: October 29th- November 4th, 2017


How: Any further questions can be directed to Elizabeth Sweeny, at 540.672.2728x167, or by emailing dig@montpelier.org.  Thank you for your interest in this project! 

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