You might easily drive by the little train station near the entrance to James Madison’s Montepelier estate. It is vernacular architecture, built in 1910, to serve the wealthy then-owners of Montpelier, the duPont family. But its restoration, part of Montpelier’s ongoing development of the Madison site, has returned it to its Jim Crow layout, with separate waiting rooms for “colored” and “white” people. That’s a daring move, and an effective one. One must see the obscenity to know its full impact. How odd and tragic that a space which might have been larger and more open and filled with more light was subdivided, to the shame of one group, the insult of another and the inconvenience of both. I wrote about it in Sunday’s The Washington Post and I encourage everyone in striking distance of Orange, VA to pay it a visit. And take in the main Madison house as well, which is looking splendid after the removal of the Pepto-Bismol colored encrustation of the duPont era.
Image by John Strader, courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation