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Sixth generation of Downses live at Montpelier

May 29, 1997

By Kate Coleman

Staff Writer

Nine-year-old Alan and 6-year-old Kyle are the sixth generation of the Downs family to live at Montpelier, originally a 5,283-acre estate in Clear Spring. The main house was built in 1771.

The boys live with their parents, Cindy and Andy Downs, in thehouse of the overseer or slavemaster of as many as 188 slaves. They watch television and play video games in the 100-year-old log cabin which was dismantled and reassembled at its present site overlooking the pond. The boys often spend the night in sleeping bags in the cabin's upstairs loft.

Cindy and Andy Downs have lived in their home for about 11 years. They worked on its restoration and seven-room addition for about three years before moving in. They did most of the work themselves the first couple of years, but toward the end, they got to thinking if they ever wanted to move in, they needed to hire some help, says Cindy Downs.

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The original house had four rooms. The Downses exposed ceiling beams, and two large stone fireplaces were uncovered when the plaster was chipped away. There was no plumbing. The upstairs ceilings were low and steeply sloped, so the couple raised the roof 18 inches.

The home is decorated with stenciling, sponging, ragging, antiquing, pickling and whitewashing. Paintings by Cindy Downs, her father, brother, grandfather and Mary Loose, the grandmother of Andy Downs, are displayed. Andy Downs' handiwork may be seen in a desk and wardrobe he crafted.

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