"We wanted to repair any visible damage that was obvious while we had the funding and could take care of it," Graham said.

Archaeologists brought in for the restoration uncovered a brick pier that supported an outbuilding near the original kitchen — something they'll leave for a future project.  

"It pinpointed a need for future archaeology," Graham said about the discovery of the brick pier.

Archaeologists are also investigating the foundation of the summer house while the floor has been removed for additional repairs. Work on the summer house will continue, as rotten panels are replaced, Handler said.

Handled with care

While the work was under way, special care had to be taken with the antique furnishings and textiles — which were carefully moved from room to room throughout the repairs. Nothing left the property during the work, Graham said. 

Prized woodwork — in particular the china closet and a mantelpiece topped by a valuable map — was carefully covered to avoid any damage during interior repairs. 

"Nothing is done without the greatest of care," he said.

With the work near completion, the furnishings which reflect the second owner, Nicholas Snowden, Ann and Thomas's son, are back in place and the house is back on its regular tour and event schedule.

While the house was closed, the Montpelier staff continued an ambitious schedule on and off-site.

"We did a number of programs off-site, under the umbrella title of Montpelier in the Community," said Holly Burnham, historian and museum educator at Montpelier. Beginning with Black History Month programming at Deerfield Run Community Center through Tavern Games Nights at Russett Library and Sullivan's Restaurant, the staff found all kinds of locations to keep the community interested in local history. In addition, the grounds were used for the annual Montpelier Festival of Herbs, Teas and the Arts and a summer history playground. The first programs in the restored house were held in September, an 1812 lecture by historian David Taylor and a Downton Abbey tea.

Burnham said visitors at the re-opening celebration had questions on how best to preserve and care for their own homes, and so that may be a topic for future programming.

"We're very happy to have visitors back in the house, and together with the Friends of Montpelier, we have lots of events to welcome them back," Burnham said. "We feel it's very important to educate the public on the work that was done to preserve this historic treasure for centuries to come."

Montpelier Mansion, 9650 Muirkirk Road, is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day but Wednesday. For details, go to pgparks.com