In 1886, James Dooley, a native Richmonder and wealthy businessman, and his wife, Sallie, acquired 100 acres of farmland on the banks of the James River and hired architect Edgerton Stewart Rogers to design their massive home 12,000 square foot home. Rogers combined the Romanesque Revival style with the Queen Anne to create a the gorgeous 33-room dwelling for the Dooleys. It was completed in 1893, and was dubbed “May Mont”, Sallie’s maiden name and the French word for hill combined.
The Dooley’s lived in the home for 32 years until Mrs. Dooley’s death in 1925. No other family has ever lived at Maymonth because within 6 months of Sallie’s passing it was turned into a public museum. The upper level’s interiors were even kept intact and almost untouched until the mansion went through a restoration in 1970.
Touring Maymont is like taking a step back to the late 1800s, as extensive research was done to keep the home as it was used in the days of its original owners. When you enter Maymont Mansion’s upper floors, you step into the luxe world of the Dooleys. Twelve rooms on the first and second floors have been restored, including eight period spaces with information about the Dooley’s in-house employees at the time of their occupancy.
In addition to the main house, the large estate has more than 25 preserved historic buildings and garden structures. The three main structures include the Normandy-style Carriage House (built of James River granite quarried on the property), the three-story Stone Barn and the Water Tower all constructed in the early 20th century.
Any Richmond resident will tell you that this property is one of the most amazingly beautiful and most visited spots in the city. Its architecture is magnificent and truly a treasure to all that call RVA home.
The sprawling gardens and rolling hills make it the number one spot in the city for picnics, long walks, and special events and the wildlife center, wild animal exhibits, and recently revamped petting zoo are highlights for area families.
Maymont’s gardens can be walked free of charge year round from 10am-7pm or 5pm, depending on time of year. You can also sign up for group tours, golf cart tours and carriage rides through the grounds. As for the mansion itself, it’s open Tuesday-Sunday from 12-5pm with guided upstairs tours and self-guided below stairs exhibits for a $5 suggested donation. Visit Maymont.org for even more history and information on this historic Richmond destination.