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Posted: 03/28/2015

James Madison's Montpelier

Montpelier is a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This well-preserved 2,650-acre estate in Orange County, Virginia, was the lifelong home of James Madison. Its history begins with settlement by James Madison's grandfather in the 1720s, and includes slaves who worked and lived on the plantation, Civil War soldiers who encamped on the property, and a freedman's family who lived and farmed here after Emancipation. In 1901 Montpelier was purchased by William duPont, a leading industrialist, and it remained in the duPont family for most of the 20th century. Upon the senior William duPont's death in 1928, Montpelier became the home of his daughter Marion duPont Scott. She and her brother, William, transformed Montpelier into one of the nation's leading equestrian estates and played an important role in establishing and promoting racing on the flat and steeplechasing in America. Following Mrs. Scott's death, ownership of Montpelier was transferred in 1984 by her heirs to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in accordance with Mrs. Scott's bequest. The Montpelier Foundation, an independent non-profit organization, was later established by the Trust for the purpose of managing Montpelier. The Montpelier Foundation assumed full financial and administrative responsibility in 2000. In 2003 The Montpelier Foundation began the restoration of the Montpelier mansion to the 1820s home that James and Dolley Madison knew and loved. The architectural restoration was celebrated on Constitution Day, September 17, 2008. Since that time, the Montpelier Foundation has used the same focus on authenticity to furnish the house and restore the grounds of the property and bring back the homes of the enslaved community who lived at and built Montpelier. The Montpelier Foundation derives its purpose and inspiration from James Madison. His vital role in the creation of the American nation is central to our mission. We are making Mr. Madison's lifelong home at Montpelier a window into his life and legacy, a place of education where visitors, scholars, and educators can explore the ideas of the Father of the Constitution and fourth president of the United States

Preservation Architect
Professional Opportunity
Montpelier Station, VA

The Montpelier Foundation is seeking a preservation architect for a three-year project to help oversee the reconstruction of six early 19th century outbuildings.  This interdisciplinary project is intended to reconstruct the buildings of the South Yardthe work and living complex for the enslaved domestics at James Madisons Montpelier.  The position comes with benefits (health insurance, retirement, holiday, vacation, and sick leave).  The position is full-time and is part of the regular operating budget for Montpeliers Archaeology Department. Salary range is $42,000-$50,000 depending upon experience.  Following the three-year project, we will be looking to integrate this position into our full-time professional staff.

The Montpelier Archaeology and Landscape Restoration of the South Yard

Over the next three seasons Montpelier will be focused on excavating and reconstructing the buildings in the South Yard, which served as James Madisons Domestic Slave Complex during his retirement in the early 19th century, which included three duplex quarters, two smokehouses, and an extant kitchen. These reconstructions are part of the Montpelier Foundations commitment to reconstruct and interpret the lives of enslaved laborers, as part of $10 million financial gift from David Rubenstein. This interpretation will rely heavily on the results of excavations over the next few seasons. The excavation, analysis, and reconstruction of these sites is also part of a larger landscape research project at Montpelier and includes an important teaching and public component with the research program (university field schools and multiple week-long adult training programs). During these programs, staff will take an active role in teaching field school students and volunteers about the reconstruction process and how this work dovetails with archaeological research.

Job Duties 

  • Conduct historic research, on-site surveys and documentation.
  • Collaborate with consulting historic architects, architectural historians, archaeologists and engineers in the design of the outbuildings in the South Yard.
  • Prepare architectural drawings for all project phases, including concept, schematics, design documents and construction documents.
  • Revise existing architectural drawings as needed to include new information recovered from ongoing archaeological excavations.
  • Supervise the construction of six early 19th century recreated outbuildings to ensure conformity to construction drawings and specifications.
  • Duties to include documenting and advising on historic structures on Montpelier 2700 property.
  • Assisting with the one-week reconstruction programs that will be held in the South Yard (Timber Framing Workshops)
  • Coordinate construction activities with other Montpelier departments (interpretation, curatorial, and archaeology).
  • Manage the documentation, construction, and help to coordinate/schedule the erection of the new buildings and work collaboratively with a multi-disciplined team.


  • Demonstrated work experience with a professional degree in Architecture and graduate degree in Historic Preservation or related field or comparable experience. Preferred to have at least three years of work experience in this area.
  • Field work experience measuring historic buildings and producing Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) standard existing-conditions drawings in CAD. Preferred to have at least one full year of work experience in this area.
  • Candidates should have a strong understanding of 18th and 19th century structures in the Chesapeake.
  • Registered Architect a plus, but not required.
  •  Experience working with contractors.
  • Strong graphic skills for field documentation.
  • Applicants should demonstrate an understanding of, and ability to produce, standard two-dimensional architectural drawings in AutoCad (site plans, plans, elevations, sections, details, axonometrics) and to create report and documents.
  • Experience in the preservation and treatment of historic buildings; including investigating, documenting and evaluating historic buildings.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Be able to lift at least 30 pounds. 
OPen until

How to apply
To Apply Apply online. Application materials must include a cover letter detailing your experience in documenting and drawing 18th and 19th century structures and include a portfolio of drawings, a resume or cv, and a list of three references. These must be combined as one pdf document. Applications need to be received by April 10th. While this announcement may have a deadline, positions will be filled as suitable applicants are found. All applications need to be processed through the link, please do not e-mail applications or cover letters as these will not be considered.
Matt Reeves
PO Box 67
Laundry Road
Montpelier Station, VA 22957

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