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The James Madison Museum, Virginia (Where Gumbo was #325)


Gumbo was visiting the  James Madison Museum in Orange, Virginia.  Unfortunately Gumbo eluded everyone out there, and no one solved where we were visiting this week.

Madison Museum Sign

Museum Directional Sign

Madison Tomb Sign

Though the museum is named for James Madison, the 4th President of the United States, the museum has a wide variety of subjects on display.  First Lady Dolley Madison has many artifacts exhibited....

Dolley Madison Portrait


First Lady Title

...along with time period photos, tools, documents, musical instruments, clothing and even an entire tenant house that was moved into the museum. 

The Black History Room features a tribute to the forgotten patriots of the American Revolution, a slavery exhibit, and post-emancipation settlements in the Orange environs. 

Black History Room

A copy of a 1904 Voter Registration Book identified “colored” voters. 

Voter Registration 1904

The African / Caribbean origination “Thumb Piano” (aka Kalimbas or Lamellophone) was a new and interesting musical instrument to me.

Thumb Piano

The Pictorial Gallery has a variety of printed artifacts, currency and etchings.  The currency was noteworthy (forgive the pun) along with trading cards which I didn’t know went back that far.

Colonial Currency

Colonial Trading Cards

Trading Card Info

Another thing I didn’t know was that President Madison was a cousin of the 12th President Zachary Taylor, who was born in Barboursville, Virginia, which is now a famous winery town close to Charlottesville, Montpelier, and Orange. 


Zachery Taylor Portrait

Zachery Taylor Signage

There is also framed documents from George Washington and other U.S. Presidents from the Virginia area.

George Washington Survey

George Washington Note

The large Hall of Agriculture and Transportation was enjoyable for me.  The transportation items included a 1924 Model T,

1924 Model T

....a horse drawn carriage from 1790, a Thornhill Jr. wagon...

Thornhill Jr. Wagon

…. and a1960 Soap Box Derby Car.

Derby Car

Derby Car Note

If you are into winter transportation, there are the Albany and Portland Cutter sleighs. 

Albany Sleigh

Albany Sleigh Note

Portland Cutter Sleigh

Portland Cutter Sleigh Note

The Agricultural Hall included many tools used during the period of President Madison’s period and after.  There are the Surface Land Roller...

Surface Land Roller

Surface Land Roller Note

...Thompson’s Root Cutter...

Root Cutter

...Broom Maker....

Broom Maker

Broom Maker Note

….and Tobacco Grinder.

Tobacco Grinder 
Tobacco Grinder Note

In the big hall is also a tenement house relocated from one of James Madison’s tenement plots.  Back in the day owners had to provide a standard log cut home of 16’ X 16’ for their tenement farmers who leased the land.  Rent cost was the first years crop of “Indian corn” then after the fifth year it was the market value of 200 pounds of processed tobacco.

Tenement House 2

Tenement House

 If you happen to get to this museum, ask to speak with the Museum Director, Bethany Sullivan.  She is by far the most knowledgeable museum manager I have had the pleasure to know.  It’s as if she knew James and Dolley personally.  She knows the history behind every artifact in the museum and will give in depth accounts of each.  You would love the story she tells about President Madison writing a letter detailing his yearning and burning love for Dolley when he wanted to court her.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11AM until 5PM.  After July 1st of this year the cost will be $6 for adults and $3 for youths.  Parking is very easy in the lot by the front door or on the street a few steps away.

Viistors Bureau

 Orange Coca Cola Mural

Orange Train Station

Besides this informative museum, there are some interesting things to see in the town of Orange right around the corner of the museum.  The Arts Center, Visitors Center, Train Station, Painted Wall Mural, Madison Tomb Sign, Courthouse, Zachery Taylor Plaque, a nutcracker oddity, and street side photos.

Orange Architecture

Orange County Courthouse 1858

Orange Arts Center


Images (47)
  • 100_7199
  • 100_7200
  • 1924 Model T
  • Albany Sleigh Note
  • Albany Sleigh
  • Arjaon Price House
  • Black History Room
  • Broom Maker Note
  • Broom Maker
  • Colonial Currency 2
  • Colonial Currency
  • Colonial Trading Cards
  • Cousins
  • Derby Car Note
  • Derby Car
  • Dolley Madison Portrait
  • Dress
  • First Lady Title
  • George Washington Note
  • George Washington Survey
  • James Madison Bust
  • Madison Museum Sign
  • Madison Tomb Sign
  • Model T Note
  • Museum Directional Sign
  • Orange Architecture
  • Orange Arts Center
  • Orange Coca Cola Mural
  • Orange County Courthouse 1858
  • Orange Train Station
  • Portland Cutter Sleigh Note
  • Portland Cutter Sleigh
  • Root Cutter
  • Surface Land Roller Note
  • Surface Land Roller
  • Tenement House 2
  • Tenement House
  • Thornhill Jr. Wagon
  • Thumb Piano
  • Tobacco Grinder Note
  • Tobacco Grinder
  • Trading Card Info
  • Viistors Bureau
  • Voter Registration 1904
  • Zachery Taylor 2
  • Zachery Taylor Portrait
  • Zachery Taylor Signage

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