“Like” us on Facebook and Twitter.

While Montpelier is closed for cleaning and repairs (through January 15, 2013) – you can still learn about James and Dolley Madison, the rich history of Orange, Virginia and enjoy amazing artifacts right here at The James Madison Museum.  (Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm).


New Program for Orange County Schools

To further our community outreach The James Madison Museum has begun a new program for the benefit of our school children.  Teachers can contact us and we will bring one or two artifacts to the classroom and provide a brief presentation for the children in class.  Our long-standing practice is that alll Orange County school children are admitted free to the Museum until they graduate from high school.


Reading Time with Santa

Santa visited the Museum and treated our visiting children with a reading of two classic Christmas stories: The Night Before Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Riendeer.  After the songs were sung and the stories read, Santa spent time with each child, chatting about their year and their lives and then gave them a little stocking filled with yummy treats.


A Slave in the White House, Paul Jennings and the Madisons

On Sunday, December 9th, Elizabeth Dowling Taylor discussed her research and experiences while writing  A Slave in the White House, Paul Jennings and the Madisons.   Ms. Taylor spent years research this book and was able to draw upon “newly discovered documents to show what it was like to be the personal property of the fourth president of the United States, and paints provocative portraits of Madison’s plantation and the life for African Americans in early Washington.” (Excerpted quotes from the publisher.)  Ms. Taylor is an engaging speaker and her insight into this subject matter was most illuminating.

Let’s Chat About the Constitution

This timely discussion was enjoyed by all who attended. Mr. Jeansonne provided a brief overview of why the Articles of Confederation failed, moved into the Constitutional Convention and then a high-points only review of each of the Articles of the original Constitution. Following a short and fun trivia quiz, light refreshments were enjoyed in the Madison Room of the Museum. The next event will be the book chat and signing by author Elizabeth Dowling Taylor on December 9th.


James Madison and Slavery Presentation

Braving the forecast for stormy weather, our guests enjoyed the presentation by Bud Jeansonne covering slavery during James Madison’s life time; what he was born into and his writings and actions concerning slavery up to his death in 1836. When all the questions were through, our guests enjoyed a delicious spread generously prepared for the Museum by Chef Corbett of “Wise Guys” restaurant in Orange, Virginia.



Civil War Medicine and Surgery Presentation

Dr. Neff-Smith holding two ivory-handled instruments from a mid-1800′s surgical kit.

Guests to the lecture on Civil War Medicine and Surgery enjoyed a relaxed atmosphere and interaction with our speaker, Dr. Martha Neff-Smith.  The presentation included the evolution of rather primitive medical knowledge and procedures, how disease and starvation was used as a weapon by Northern tacticians and how ill prepared rural Southern troops were to withstand measles, chicken pox and other diseases and how medical supplies were completely cut off with the Northern Naval blockade.  With no medicine, herbs and bark/roots had to be relied upon to treat the sick and wounded. Dr. Neff-Smith read from periodicals of the day describing various issues with hospitals, staffing, lack of training and women’s roles.  The presentation was followed by light refreshments.  The next free lecture will be “James Madison and Slavery” with Bud Jeansonne on October 28th.


 New Vice President of the Board of Directors

Local historian and author Ms. Jayne Blair consented to serve as the Board Vice President.  The position became vacant with the retirement of Ms. Carla Bangs.  Ms. Blair is well qualified to help lead the Museum as it grows.  With her background as a long-time (now retired) senior guide at Montpelier, her research to publish two non-fiction historical works (Tragedy at Montpelier and The Essential Civil War) and her continued work at the Orange County Historical Society, Ms. Blair is a feather in our cap!


Welcome New Board Members

At the annual meeting the Museum welcomed three new Board members, all from Gordonsville:  Ms. Margaret Neal, Mr. Ron Smith and Mr. Todd Feagans.  With the retirement of Ms. Carla Bangs, Mr. Smith volunteered to head the Building & Grounds Committee.


Annual Meeting Held

Sunday, September 16th, the Annual Meeting was held at the Museum.  Along with administrative reports a special tribute of appreciation and thanks was given to Mrs. Margaret Johnston, a long-time benefactor.  Mrs. Johnston has not only funded various needs and exhibits, she has also been the driving force to bring in and build the African-American permanent exhibit “Forgotten Patriots of the American Revolution.”  Most recently, Mrs. Johnston’s generosity provided the funds to build a handicap accessible bathroom in the Agricultural Hall.  Thanks yet again to the physical labor and expertise of Mr. Jim Gerock, the building process went well and on a timely basis.  Mr. Gerock has given years (over 10!) of his labor and care to this old structure.  While technically retired from the Board, he has remained “on call” and kindly made many visits for repairs and maintenance.

The tribute to Mrs. Johnston and plaque were presented by Ms. Carla Bangs, retiring Vice President of the Board of Directors.  Ms. Bangs has served as secretary and vice president over a five year period and has helped the Museum through some rough patches and growing pains.  Additionally, she served as Chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee.  Ms. Bangs has not only been the administrative force of the Committee, she has painted, planted, fought weeds, pruned, swept, hammered and scrubbed.  Further, it was Ms. Bangs that created and managed the Annual Plant Sale; the vital fund-raising event for the Museum.  Thankfully, she has kindly consented to remain involved with that program.  ”Thank You” seems insufficient for all the typing, administrative and physical labor provided by Ms. Bangs…but THANK YOU, Carla!


Meet the Author

Guests enjoyed the knowledge and humor of our local historian and author, Pat LaLand.  Pat shared some of the stories behind the stories in her book Orange County Chronicles, Stories from a Historic Virginia County.  After the questions had been answered Pat signed books and all enjoyed light refreshments.



Wesley Dennis Prints

If you are a fan of Wesley Dennis you will appreciate these charming prints.  Wesley Dennis created the art for 15 books during the 1940s until his death.  Among those wonderful books are Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague, Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague and King of the Wind  The prints are $12.00 each.


Thank you, Sheltering Arms

On August 4th, The James Madison Museum received a generous donation from Sheltering Arms.  In the letter from the Board of Directors of the Greater Orange Community Development Corp., Inc., Treasurer Mary Lee Hensel wrote:

As one of the final acts before closing Sheltering Arms, we  most not have a profit left from the sale of the Transition House.

The Board of Directors has been praying for the last few months as we finalized the closing and would like to gift your Museum with the enclosed check, in honor of all the help we received from you with books for our resident children.

It has been our privilege to share the gift of learning with the families being assisted by Sheltering Arms.

Opening of 1800s Gown Exhibit a Success!

26 guests attended the July 22nd opening of the Museum’s 1800s gowns exhibit as presented by Ms. Laura-Michal Balderson, our wonderful intern from The University of Mary Washington.  Thank you, Laura-Michal, for your wonderful presentation.


 June 27, 2012:  Loan to James Polk’s Ancestral  Home.

The James Madison Museum recently loaned one of Mr. Madison’s crystal decanters and the Longacre portrait (oil on wood) of an elderly James Madison to Polk’s Ancestral Home and Museum in Columbia, Tennessee.  Their exhibit is presidents who made “the Toughest Decision” of going to war.

The James Madison Museum is looking forward to reaching out to other museums to share and exchange loans to enrich the visits of guests to museums around the country.


June 27, 2012: Mr. Madison’s Campeache Chair Returns.

After a nice visit at Montpelier, Mr. Madison’s Campeache Chair (his favorite chair according to his niece) returns to The James Madison Museum.  The Montpelier Foundation is returning the chair Friday, June 29th and will borrow a different chair for a while.  The Robert Cockburn chair, sometimes called “Nelly’s chair” as it was inherited by James Madison , Jr. upon the death of his mother (Nelly Conway Madison) in 1829, was crafted around 1773 for Colonel James Madison, Senior.

Robert Cockburn was a Scottish immigrant who fulfilled his indenture by working as a journeyman in Falmouth (1767-1772) before moving west to Orange County in 1773.  His skill was such that he acquired prominent clients such as Colonel Madison.    The Cockburn chair is mahogany and one out of a set purchased by Colonel Madison.   The chair was a gift to the James Madison Museum by Ms. Florence Lee Lyons Packard on 6/15/1987.

The Montpelier Foundation has graciously performed research about various artifacts and provided preservation guidance in exchange for borrowing various Madison artifacts.  The James Madison Museum looking forward to working with the Foundation on future projects with anticipation.


James Madison and the First National Bank.

On Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. The James Madison Museum hosted special guests Dr. David E. Martin and Mr. David Pratt of M•CAM Inc, who presented an intriguing lecture covering James Madison and the first national bank.

The U.S. Constitution had to prove its durability and adaptability in a variety of situations and disputes. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” was a key figure in many of these events and discussions.

Dr. Martin, Founding Chairman of M•CAM Inc., is a Batten Fellow of the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at UVA.

His professional qualifications include: BA, Goshen College; MS, Ball State University; PhD, University of Virginia; Fellow: UVA, Indian Institute for Management-Ahmedabad; and Lecturer: Tianjin University of Finance & Economics and the University of Notre Dame.

Mr. Pratt is the President at M•CAM Inc. He has 35 years of experience in public policy development and implementation, economic restructuring, trade credit offset structuring, technology and vendor qualification, and financial and risk management.

His professional experience and qualifications include: Officer of the U.S. Senate; Senior Vice President, Federal Affairs and Business Development for the American Insurance Association; and Financial Services Practice Leader at Columbus Newport LLC. He earned his BA at St. John Fisher College.

M·CAM is the world-wide leader in integrating intangible assets and sovereign rights into regulated capital markets. Our ethical financial structures align human innovation and creativity to global markets and value exchanges. Using our intent-based communication analysis tools, we conduct best-in-class risk and market analysis for diverse global market leaders and build financial and strategic solutions for our partners. Based in Charlottesville, M·CAM is mindful of the letter which Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1813 to Isaac McPherson saying, “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”


Special Lecture by Dr. Holly Shulman of UVA

Sunday April 29th author Holly Shulman, Director of the Dolley Madison Project at UVA, spoke about Dolley Madison at the James Madison Museum.  Dr. Shulman is a Madisonian scholar and coeditor of the ‘The Selected Letters of Dolley Payne Madison’.  Guests who attended were treated to an enlightening view of Dolley, her life and times and a look beyond the widely known facts about her contributions to political life and protocol.  It was a great experience for all who attended.


 Annual Plant Sale to Benefit The James Madison Museum

The James Madison Museum’s Annual Herb, Plant and Bake Sale (April 28th & 29th) was a great success!  Enthusiastic purchasers enjoyed the beautiful herbs, annuals and perennials they could buy and were able to get answers to questions from our staff of Master Gardeners.

Our thanks to the wonderful local nurseries/farms who donated flats of plants:  American Color, Battlefield Farms, Bonnie Plant Farm, Grelen Nursery, Morningside Farm and Nursery, Orange-Madison Co-op and Windmill Heights Greenhouses.

We also want to thank the two bakeries who donated some delicious treats:  The Bread Depot and Greenock Bakery & Gourmet Shop.




Orange 4th Graders visit the James Madison Museum on President Madison’s Birthday!

Published April 5th, 2012

On Friday, March 16th, Sharon Mohrman’s 4th Grade class visited the Museum.  These Orange Elementary School children had a great time and some entertaining photographs were taken.  Students asked thoughtful questions and discovered artifacts like the documents from the Virginia Ratification Convention of June 25, 1788 and the 1870-1920 Ballot Box of the Barbour District in Orange County. The students enjoyed learning about key documents and events of our local and national history.


Friday, March 16th, The James Madison Museum participated in the  celebration of Mr. Madison’s 261st birthday.  Board President Dr. Neff-Smith placed a wreath from The James Madison Museum at his grave site at Montpelier.


Sunday, March 4, 2012.  Dr. David Mattern (The James Madison Papers Project; UVA) gave a lecture about “The Marriage of James and Dolley Madison and Their Letters.”  Dr. Mattern’s presentation was informative as well as entertaining and he graciously participated in a question and answer session.  Following his presentation both he and our guests enjoyed light refreshments.


Welcome to our new Board member, Jayne Blair.  Jayne is an historian and author of several Civil War books. She served with the U.S. Navy before joining the Dallas Police Department. Leaving Dallas after 25 years, she came to Virginia to chase history and became a senior interpreter at James Madison’s Montpelier. While there, she became a researcher and historian of not only James Madison and Montpelier, but also the Civil War with respect to Montpelier and Orange County. Jayne is currently on the board of the Orange County Historical Society and researching Samuel McGowan’s brigade during the winter of 1863-1864.


Special  Civil  War Sesquicentennial Event:  Learn About Medical Treatments for Confederate and Union Soldiers

Published May 11th, 2012

On January 8th, 2012 at 3 pm Dr. Martha Neff-Smith spoke at the James Madison Museum about medical practices for  soldiers during the Civil War. The Orange County region has a very rich history in caring for wounded and ill soldiers from both the Confederate and Union sides. The Exchange Hotel in Gordonsville cared for thousands and was the first hospital available for the injured in the field. There were Civil War versions of MASH units that provided first aide and triage. The fields of medicine and nursing benefited from the knowledge gained during this most difficult time in our history.  For example, some plastic surgery procedures were initiated with surprising success.

The James Madison Museum is located at 129 Caroline Street in Orange, Virginia and has rich collection of Civil War artifacts, as well as numerous artifacts related to the most notable Orange resident, James Madison.

Dr. Neff-Smith is a former professor at Virginia Commonwealth and Johns Hopkins Universities. Her background in epidemiology is focused on injury.

For additional information about this free-to-the-public lecture, call the Museum at 540-672-1776 or email info@thejamesmadisonmuseum.org.


Do you live in Orange Virginia?


Would you like to volunteer?

The James Madison Museum needs only a few hours of your time.  Two hours of being on the front desk will give you and three friends tickets to the museum.   Repeat volunteers will become members of the museum.   Call 540-672-1776 to sign up!

We know the holidays are a busy time; however it’s not too early to pencil in time for January or February.  Learn all the stories contained in the exhibits and share with others details on our nation’s infancy.

James Madison Museum Offers Unique Look At Civil War From British Perspective

Published on May 30, 2011

by Meredith Wouters


OfficialWire PR News Bureau

On Sunday June 12th at 3 p.m., the James Madison Museum presents its fifth speaker: Dr. Richard Floyd. Dr. Floyd is a history professor at the University of Virginia and author of ‘Religious Dissent and Political Modernization: Church, Chapel and Party in Nineteenth-Century England’.

His speech on the Civil War from the British Perspective will coincide with the opening of the museum’s new exhibit: Torn Asunder, a look at the Civil War in Orange.  It will highlight period artifacts from Orange County including letters between soldiers and their families.

The event is open to the public at 129 Caroline Street, Orange. Refreshments will be provided afterwards. Please call 540 672-1776 for more details or visit http://thejamesmadisonmuseum.org/.


James Madison Museum’s Lecture Series Continues May 15

Author and historian Dr. J.C.A. Stagg to discuss President Madison’s involvement in Spanish Borderlands

Published on April 19, 2011

by Meredith Wouters


OfficialWire PR News Bureau

Don’t miss the fourth installment of the James Madison Museum’s lecture series on Sunday, May 15th, at 3 p.m. UVA history professor and Director of the James Madison Papers Project, Dr. J.C.A. Stagg, will discuss James Madison and the Spanish Borderlands.

In his new book, Borderlines in Borderlands: James Madison and the Spanish-American Frontier, 1776 to 1821, Dr. Stagg tackles historians’ traditional assumption that President James Madison sent agents into the Spanish borderlands between 1810 and 1813 to subvert Spanish rule. Dr. Stagg, however, argues that Madison’s real intent was to find peaceful and legal resolutions to long-standing disputes over the boundaries of Louisiana at a time when the Spanish-American empire was in the process of dissolution.

The event is open to the public and will be held at the James Madison Museum on 129 Caroline Street in Orange, Virginia. Refreshments will be available after the lecture, and Dr. Stagg will sign copies of his book.

Please call 540-672-1776 or visit http://thejamesmadisonmuseum.org/ for additional information.


James Madison Museum’s Annual Plant And Bake Sale Will Tickle Your Taste Buds This Weekend

Published on April 15, 2011

by Meridith Wouters


OfficialWire PR News Bureau

Come to the James Madison Museum’s annual Plant and Bake Sale!

This spring tradition will provide those interested with a fine selection shrubs, herbs, flowers, annuals, and perennials — perfect for your Mother’s Day gift needs!

Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions, and local delicacies will be on sale to tickle your taste buds.

The sale starts in the Hall of Agriculture and Transportation on Saturday, April 16th at 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  It continues the next day from noon until 4 p.m.


James Madison Museum to Host Award-Winning Historian’s Lecture on George Washington, His Slaves, and the Founding of America

Museum will sponsor many more exciting events in near future

Published on February 21, 2011

by Meredith Wouters


OfficialWire PR News Bureau

On February 27th, at 3:00 p.m., at the James Madison Museum in Orange, VA, award-winning author and historian Henry Wiencek will give a lecture about African-American soldiers during the Revolutionary War.  Mr. Wiencek’s books An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America and The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White will be available for purchase.  Mr. Wiencek has indicated that he will be available for a book signing.  The event, which includes refreshments, is free to the public.

The James Madison Museum will host several other events in the coming months:

  • March 16th, 6:00 p.m.: The museum will celebrate the 260th birthday of James Madison with hors d’oeuvres and champagne.
  • March 27th at 3:00 p.m.: Jayne Blair, historian and author of “Tragedy at Montpelier,” will be speaking about the Civil War at Montpelier.
  • April 9th, 10:00 a.m.: Museum President Dr. Martha Neff-Smith will give a lecture on colonial herbs, followed an herbs sale.
  • May 15th: Dr. John Stagg, Professor of History and Head of the James Madison Papers at the University of Virginia, will speak about the Spanish Borderlands.
  • June 12th: Dr. Richard Floyd will give a lecture on the Civil War from a British Perspective. 

For more information about upcoming events, visit the Museum’s website: http://thejamesmadisonmuseum.org/.

The James Madison Museum houses exhibits on James and Dolley Madison, featuring one of the nation’s most outstanding collections of Madisonia. Located in historic Orange County near Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison, the museum frequently presents nationally recognized speakers and events related to the work of President James Madison.


James Madison Museum in Virginia Hosts Noted Black History Author

Henry Wiencek to speak on George Washington, his slaves, and the creation of America

Published on February 09, 2011

by Meredith Wouters


OfficialWire PR News Bureau

On February 27th, at 3:00 p.m.  noted author and historian Henry Wiencek will speak at the James Madison Museum in Orange, VA, about his award winning book “An Imperfect God, George Washington, His Slaves and the Creation of America.” In his remarks Mr. Wiencek will discuss George Washington and will compare him to Jefferson on the question of slavery.

In an interview Mr. Wiencek was asked what had inspired him to write a book about George Washington.  His answer is important:  “It came out of a couple of things.  One was finding out that near the end of the war a quarter of Washington’s army consisted of black men.  I had not known that, and it was startling to me, because it shows the tremendous debt this country owes to African Americans.  That led me to think that there was a whole, almost unknown, military history to talk about from that time.  That led to another question.  What was George Washington’s response to seeing this loyalty and courage displayed by thousands of black men during the war?  And, after seeing that, why didn’t he end slavery then and there?  That is the question I brought to the book.”

The book “An Imperfect God, George Washington, His Slaves and the Creation of America” which was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Award for History, will be available to purchase as will his book “The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White” which won the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award in biography.  Mr. Wiencek has indicated that he will be available to autograph these books.

The event, which includes refreshments, is free to the public.  The James Madison Museum is located at 129 Caroline St. Orange, Virginia.  Do not miss this opportunity to hear this prominent American historian speak about our founding history.

For more information about Mr. Wiencek, visit the Museum’s website: http://thejamesmadisonmuseum.org/.

The James Madison Museum houses exhibits on James and Dolley Madison, featuring one of the nation’s most outstanding collections of Madisonia. Located in historic Orange County near Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison, the museum frequently presents nationally recognized speakers and events related to the work of President James Madison.