Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Chandos M. Brown


This architectural history of Montpelier focuses on lives of the people who have lived and worked there between 1723 and 1998. It is not limited to the Madisons and the duPonts. Montpelier's history provides further insight into a range of moments in America's cultural history: plantation slavery in piedmont Virginia, the crisis of authority in the early American republic and the age of Jackson, ante-bellum sectionalism, Reconstruction, lifestyles of industrial magnates in the Gilded Age, and the development of historic preservation in twentieth-century America.;This study traces Montpelier's evolution as a cultural landscape composed of layered historical activity---lives, values, and choices laid in courses and struck by time. The study seeks to reconstruct the form and style of the house and grounds through the archival record. More than a catalog of the events the house and grounds witnessed, the dissertation provides an analysis of various people coming to terms with the political, economic, and social changes of their times and their own personal dilemmas through the built environment. Changes to the house and grounds provide artifactual evidence that speaks to the utilitarian demands, changing ideologies, and symbolic expressions of Montpelier's past inhabitants and present curators.



© The Author