Conservation Groups Purchase Easements on Historic Montpelier Estate

By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post staff writer
Monday, August 24, 2009 4:54 PM

More than 700 acres of land at James Madison's historic Montpelier estate in Orange County will be protected after easements on the property were purchased by two Virginia conservation groups.

Montpelier, located about 80 miles southwest of Washington, was owned by the fourth president until his death in 1836 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. The estate of Madison, who was known as the father of the Constitution, once covered 5,000 acres and was home to as many as 100 slaves.

The Montpelier Foundation, which owns the property, completed a five-year, $24 million restoration of Madison's home last year.

Four portions of the Montpelier estate are protected under the easements: the East Woods, a 200-acre forested tract; Chicken Mountain, a 245-acre forested area; the 19-acre Gilmore Farm, which was owned by a former Montpelier slave; and a Civil War encampment that troops from Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia used during the winter of 1863-64.

The easements were purchased through $1.3 million in private donations and a $700,000 grant by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation.

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