Gilded Age Oasis: Maymont Mansion

One cannot visit the Maymont Mansion in Richmond, VA without experiencing a sense of awe!  If the house does not take your breath away, the immaculate scenery and expansiveness of the grounds will.  During my most recent visit, I had the chance to experience Maymont in its holiday glory.  The story of the mansion and the couple who called it home are essential Richmond history.  Let’s take a brief look:

The Maymont mansion and its grounds once belonged to James Henry and Sarah “Sallie” May Dooley.  Mr. Dooley was a businessman and philanthropist in the “new” or, “post-Confederate” South from Irish immigrant parents, while Mrs. Dooley came from an established Virginia pedigree. In their forties, they acquired the land along the James River that became Maymont.  Maymont takes its name from Sallie’s middle name “May”.

With a copious amount of rooms sprawled over four levels (basement level servant area, upper three levels of living space) the house is immaculate in its external and interior design.  Having been left to the city of Richmond in 1925 after the death of Sallie. The estate remains with nearly all the furnishings still there from when the Dooleys called it home.

Externally, Maymont features two specially designed gardens as well as an arboretum and many other smaller, though equally unique gardens that have been planted via donations from various groups.  An Italian and a Japanese garden make up some of the most unique settings you’ll find in Richmond.  For this reason, they are often the site of many outings, first dates, engagement photos, weddings and various other events.  If you’d like to have an event there, give this page of their website a look.

The Italian garden is not in bloom in November, however, the architectural landscape still brings quite a bit of ambiance to the area.  The Japanese garden doesn’t really have an offseason, although the famous Koi fish in the man-made lake do apparently get removed for the Virginia winter. For the purpose of this post, I have included pictures of the gardens from a winter and spring trip below:

The Maymont grounds Arboretum, indoor Nature Center, and extensive outdoor pseudo-free-range zoo attractions also bring in many patrons.  Among animals featured are cows, sheep, Bald Eagles, horse, fox, bears, etc.  While a good majority of these areas are free to enjoy during operating hours (the house has a “suggested” $5 fee) the nature center does require purchasing a ticket to enter.

 

Among the annual events that have been held at Maymont are a gigantic Jazz festival that happens every summer in August, and for many years a high school cross country event was held on the grounds.

Since 1975 the Maymont Foundation have been the managers of the 100-acre estate grounds.  The site remains the same size and with over 25 building intact and functioning it is the most complete mansion of its kind that still exists in the United States.

The Maymont Foundation is one of the most active museum sites on social media, having a readily updated Instagram and Facebook pages.  I highly encourage you to visit in the months ahead, to make a donation and go check out their full website.

 

*Disclosure:  I am not being paid by Maymont Foundation for this post.  I had a great few times visiting the grounds and wanted to highlight an awesome location in Richmond, VA

 

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