In 1886 James Henry and Sallie May Dooley bought 100 acres of pasture along the James to develop as their estate. James Dooley was a Richmond born financier and was worth millions. Mr Dooley was a graduate of Georgetown College (Georgetown University). His money was made in the railroad industry. This was the era of the Gilded Age-- The age of the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts. With money to spend, Sallie May Dooley wanted to build an opulent home and gardens to enjoy and entertain in.
In 1893 the Dooleys completed their Romanesque-style mansion. They spent decades filling this home with treasures from around the world. The gardens of Maymont are landscaped beautifully. There is an Italian garden, and a Japanese garden. Other gardens have been added by the Maymont Foundation in other areas of the park.http://www.maymont.org/page.aspx?pid=290
The Dooleys never had children. They gifted their estate and gardens to the community after the death of Sallie May Dooley in 1925.
We were able to tour the mansion and learn more about it recently. Even though I grew up in Richmond and have been to Maymont many times, I had never toured the Dooley Mansion. Maymont is a multi-faceted park--Here is a map to give an idea of how large and detailed this park is.
The mansion tour, "Grandeur and Gossip in the Gilded Age", was about the life here with the upstairs and downstairs occupants. Today I want to share life upstairs, first floor. The era that the Dooley's lived was the same time as the Downton Abbey era. They share many similarities. Our docent greeted us at the front of the mansion and invited us into a time of the Gilded Age.
In the entrance foyer we are treated to the portraits of James Dooley and Sallie May Dooley
Then we entered the front parlor. It is quite beautiful and evident that the occupants of this home were quite wealthy.
The parlor is richly decorated with gold accents and filigree detail everywhere.
These marble sculptures were quite numerous and large around the home. To see a listing of objects that belonged to the Dooleys go to this link http://www.maymont.org/mansion-collection-highlights It's quite amazing to me that these items have been saved and continue to furnish this home today.
The detailed plastered ceilings are lovely works of art. Mrs Dooley entertained her women friends in the front parlor.
Across from the front parlor is the library. This room was mainly used by Mr. Dooley as he entertained business associates and gentlemen friends. The library houses nearly 1,200 books that belonged to Mr. Dooley. They are tucked into cabinets all around this room.
To the back of the home is the formal dining room.
Going to the right of the dining room we come to the bottom of the stairwell into the center hall. I'll post more about that soon, and we'll go upstairs.