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Archaeologists Uncover Structure at James Madison's Montpelier

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Archaeological dig site at James Madison's Montpelier Archaeological dig site at James Madison's Montpelier
Archaeological dig site at James Madison's Montpelier Archaeological dig site at James Madison's Montpelier
Archaeological dig site at James Madison's Montpelier Archaeological dig site at James Madison's Montpelier
ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Archaeologists at James Madison's Montpelier believe they have uncovered the final piece of a long-lost part of the estate's past.

The foundation of the North Dwelling is the final known structure that existed in the South Yard of the president’s estate. The South Yard of Montpelier was home to around 100 enslaved workers during Madison's life.

"We're trying to capture the authenticity of Montpelier in terms of what existed here in the 19th century," said Dr. Matthew Reeves, director of archeology.

Reeves’ team was digging in the South Yard when they happened upon a building called the North Dwelling.

"Well, this spring we started excavations. We started finding a brick here and there, and we came across a beautiful chimney base, and all of a sudden that was the smoking gun we needed to say 'we've got the right place, we've got the right building,'" he said.

The North Dwelling is the last of six living quarters known to exist in the South Yard. Employees and volunteers were thrilled when they found it.

Terry Brock, senior research archaeologist for the site, says the North Dwelling was significantly different than others in the yard.

"The other two dwellings that we found in this area, which are called 'double quarters' with central chimneys and two rooms on either side. This building is a different architectural style, it's a single room structure with a chimney on the end," Brock said.

Brock says this discovery will wrap up this Montpelier site work as they head on to the next one.

"It's really exciting because it's one of the final pieces of this part of the chapter we're trying to tell," he said.

Brock said the next steps will be to add on to the building's original foundation, and to replicate the way it looked in the early 1800s.

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