Madison-Barbour Rural Historic District

  • Also Known As: DHR File No 68-304

  • Vicinity: Roughly bounded by US 15, the Rapidan River and the Albemarle and Greene County lines
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Historic District

The Madison-Barbour Rural Historic District is located in central Piedmont Virginia about twenty miles east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Straddling the Virginia horse belt, the district encompasses about fifty square miles in western Orange County. The district is one of the best-preserved and most scenic rural landscapes in the upper Piedmont. The gently rolling, semi mountainous terrain is broken intermittently by broad stretches of level ground. A web of roadways, many of which date to the colonial period, offer the traveler frequent and expansive views of unspoiled countryside. The district is distinguished today, as it has been since the eighteenth century, by unusually large landholdings. The wealth generated by these large tracts of exceptionally productive, well-drained soil encouraged landowning families to erect some of the finest country houses in the state. The district's name refers to two of the area's most prominent landholding families: the Madisons and the Barbours. Both families produced political leaders of national stature, and both erected architecturally important plantation complexes--Montpelier and Barboursville--that still stand. In all, the district contains some 886 contributing architectural resources, including over three hundred dwellings running the gamut of national styles and vernacular forms and reflecting a broad socio-economic spectrum. Best known for its large estates with imposing Federal and Georgian-style mansions, the district also contains exemplary groupings of agricultural buildings and locally significant religious, commercial, and transportation-related structures. Too, the Madison-Barbour Historic District retains a high degree of integrity as a historic landscape, illustrating the long-term interaction of human and natural forces. Its buildings, and three railroad depots. The district's ill contributing "structures" are related mainly to agricultural production, but also include elements such as bridges, culverts, garden walls and gateways. Other contributing resources include one object and twenty cemeteries. Noncontributing architectural elements include 319 buildings (mostly post-1940 houses and farm buildings), 137 structures (mostly recent outbuildings and farm structures), and twenty-two objects (mostly mobile homes). In addition, the district contains important archaeological resources. Archaeological investigations have identified 205 contributing sites within the nominated boundaries of the Madison-Barbour Rural Historic District. Mostly located within the 3500 acres subjected to systematic surveys, these sites span the entire period of human occupation in the region, from before 8000 BC to the twentieth century AD. The sample documented through archaeological survey is representative of a wide range of both prehistoric and historic site types in Virginia's northern Piedmont and its diverse environmental settings. Archaeological investigations have shown these sites to be in a good state of preservation, a situation enhanced by the rural nature of the nominated acreage. - NRHP, 19 November 1990



Barboursville Vineyard
  • NRHP
  • NRHP

Data »

Particulars for Madison-Barbour Rural Historic District:
Area of Significance Agriculture
Architectural Style American Colonial Revival
Cultural Affiliation American Paleo-Indian
Historic Use Animal facility
Cultural Affiliation Archaic North American
Area of Significance Architecture
Criteria Architecture-Engineering
Owner Federal
Architectural Style Federal Style
Architectural Style Georgian Architecture
Area of Significance Historic and non-aboriginal
Sight Category Historic District
Criteria Historic Event
Criteria Information Potential
Area of Significance Landscape Architecture
Historic Use Multiple dwelling
Criteria Person
Area of Significance Prehistoric
Owner Private
Historic Use Processing
Historic Use Religious Property
Historic Use School
Historic Use Single dwelling
Area of Significance Transportation
Cultural Affiliation Woodland Period 500 BC - AD 1100

US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration:

Registry Name:
Registry Address:
Registry Number: 90002115
Resource Type:
Owner: Private, Federal, Local
Architect: Jefferson,Thomas; et al.
Architectural Style: Colonial revival, Georgian, Federal
Other Certification: Date received-pending nomination
Level of Significance: State
Area of Significance: Prehistoric, Landscape architecture, Historic and non-aboriginal, Transportation, Architecture, Agriculture
Applicable Criteria: Event, Architecture-Engineering, Person, Information Potential
Cultural Affiliation: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland
Period of Significance: 7000-8999 BC, 5000-6999 BC, 1900-1750 AD, 1499-1000 AD, 9000-10999 BC, 1749-1500 AD, 1000-2999 BC, 1000 AD-999 BC, 1900-1924, 3000-4999 BC, 1925-1949
Associated People: Madison,James,et al.
Historic Function: Education, Domestic, Religion, Agriculture, subsistence
Historic Sub-Function: Processing, Religious structure, Single dwelling, School, Animal facility, Multiple dwelling
Current Function: Education, Domestic, Agriculture, subsistence, Religion
Current Sub-Function: Storage Religious structure Single dwelling School Multiple dwelling Animal facility

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