James and Sallie Dooley donated Maymont to the citizens of Richmond, Virginia. They lived at Maymont from 1893 until 1925. Their goal was to donate a preserved space that future generations could explore and enjoy as much as they had. With breathtaking wildlife, like otters and river creatures, to having lunch on the lawn, Maymont is a space of over 100 acres for folks across the Richmond area to explore and enjoy.
History of Maymont
The 1880s and until the 1910s, the era of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Carnegie was in full swing. Millionaires enjoyed incredible homes and property. One such millionaire was Richmond’s own, James Dooley. Dooley was a financier and Maymont was his former home. It is nothing sort of the epitome of the Gilded Age of luxury in the United States.
Originally, Maymont was a 100-acre Victorian country estate where James Henry and Sallie May Dooley called home. By 1886, the duo bought the property and purchased a brief field and pasture that would eventually turn into Maymont.
By their forties, the couple had no children with plenty of resources to donate. Sallie Dooley, as a result, decided to transform the property to create a stunning landscape the likes of which that no one had seen before.
In 1893, a Roman-style mansion was completed. The couple spent the next thirty years filling the mansion with treasures from around the world and creating the Maymont gardens, architectural complex, and landscapes.
In 1922, Major Dooley died and in 1925, Mrs. Dooley followed him. Maymont was then given to the city of Richmond, Virginia to use as they saw fit. Since there were no heirs to remodel the interiors or to lend their two cents to how the property should be used. As a result, the city opened the mansion as a museum for decorative arts and a public park for folks to explore and use as they like. Today, it continues to showcase the best the Gilded Age had to offer. Much of the original architecture and grounds remain exactly as they were during the Dooley’s lifetime. This includes the garden and grounds the surround the homes.
By 1975, the Maymont Foundation was formed as a nonprofit, and the foundation went on to manage the property for the City of Richmond. While the generosity of the Dooley’s was indeed great, they did not leave funds to maintain the property. For this reason, the Maymont Foundation consistently seeks out public grants, support, and private donations to maintain the property as an educational resource.
The National Register of Historic Places puts Maymont on their list of examples of Gilded Age American country estates.
Plan Your Visit
Visiting the Maymont estate is a unique experience. You can take golf cart tours, carriage rides, or visit with a group of your closest friends and family for a treat in Richmond, Virginia. Call ahead to see what reservations are available.
Today, the Maymont mansion and estate continue to showcase the best the Gilded Age had to offer. Much of the original architecture and grounds remain exactly as they were during the Dooley’s lifetime. This includes the garden and grounds that surround the homes. Visit and explore this incredible historic estate.
Read about the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond VA