It’s likely that all of you have been to an amazing wedding or birthday party at Maymont, or attended the ultra-popular annual spring event the Saturday before Easter. Hopefully you’ve taken in a beautiful Richmond day at Maymont, feeding the animals at the Children’s Farm, catching a glimpse of the black bears that call Maymont home, or strolling through the Italian and Japanese Gardens.
But do you know the history of our beloved Maymont? Have you taken a tour of the 12,000 square-foot, 33-room mansion that sits on the grounds? Maymont’s original owners, James and Sallie Dooley, lived during America’s Gilded Age of the late 1880s through the early 1900s—the era of Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt —millionaires who demonstrated their prosperity through their elaborate homes. Richmond-born financier James Dooley was among this new class in American society. His home, Maymont, a name which combines Mrs. Dooley’s maiden name and the French word for hill, stands today as a remarkably complete expression of Gilded Age luxury and opulence.
With no heirs to their estate, the Dooleys left the entire hundred acres to the City of Richmond, and the home and grounds opened as a museum and park just six months after Mrs. Dooley’s death. The Maymont Foundation was created in 1975 to take over management of the property, and today, much has changed and much has stayed the same. Natural-setting wildlife habitats, the Children’s Farm and Nature Center (complete with the most entertaining otters you’ve ever seen!) have been added and maintained, while Maymont Mansion, the gardens and many historic artifacts have been masterfully restored so that the estate looks much as it did when the Dooleys lived there more than a century ago.
There are many ways to support the Foundation’s efforts to keep Maymont a gem for generations to come. Visit maymont.org to learn about becoming a member of, donating to, or volunteering at Maymont.