Blaise Gaston Furniture

Montpelier: South Wing

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South Wing

South Wing: I worked on Montpelier, James Madison's home as the head of restoration of all the woodwork and I also made all the new woodwork. The DuPont's had tripled Montpelier in size in the early 1900's and it was given to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1984. Many years passed before the decision was made to restore the house as closely as possible to the way it was in 1810. In 2004, we started removing all the additions that had been made to the house and it took almost 6 years to complete the restoration. It was fascinating work trying to determine how the house used to be as we had very few drawings. I worked with a team of architects and restoration experts with the goal to restore existing millwork as perfectly as possible and to produce the new items to be exactly as they would have been originally made. It was an unusual job with plenty of funding and no pushing to get it done. The philosophy was simply to do it right no matter what it took. We did have quite a few discussions about what "right" was.

All the woodwork in the house was made of vertical grain heart pine, as this wood was in great supply in Madison's time and very nice to work with. Today, it is basically all gone and it comes from old buildings being dismantled and the beams being cut into lumber and sold. It is very expensive and beautiful. We used many hundreds of thousands of dollars of heart pine in the house and most of it was painted.