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.
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....
...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.
A copy of a 1904 Voter Registration Book identified “colored” voters.
The African / Caribbean origination “Thumb Piano” (aka Kalimbas or Lamellophone) was a new and interesting musical instrument to me.
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.
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.
There is also framed documents from George Washington and other U.S. Presidents from the Virginia area.
The large Hall of Agriculture and Transportation was enjoyable for me. The transportation items included a 1924 Model T,
....a horse drawn carriage from 1790, a Thornhill Jr. wagon...
…. and a1960 Soap Box Derby Car.
If you are into winter transportation, there are the Albany and Portland Cutter sleighs.
The Agricultural Hall included many tools used during the period of President Madison’s period and after. There are the Surface Land Roller...
...Thompson’s Root Cutter...
….and Tobacco Grinder.
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.
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.
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.