Saturday, January 31, 2015

Two Worlds of the Dooley Mansion

For more than thirty years, Maymont employed servants to maintain their estate.  Most servants lived in their own homes but a few lived below stairs.

A  One of two coal storage rooms
B  Furnace
C  Kitchen and dining area for domestic staff
D  Pantry and also referred to as "dairy room"
E  Laundry Room
F  Cold room --unheated room for perishable foods
G  Butler's Bedroom
H  Wine Cellar
I  Maid's Room
J  Drying Closet

The Dooleys lived only decades away from the end of the Civil War.  The master-slave mentality was still fresh in the south.  They employed mostly African American domestics to take care of their home.  Most had limited opportunities, so many turned to working for wealthy white families.  The Dooleys employed a butler, a second butler, a cook, a kitchen maid, a housemaid, a lady's maid, and a laundress.  They also employed an estate manager, a chauffeur, a coachman, and twenty workers to maintain the grounds and stables.

Maymont domestic workers typically worked thirteen hour days and were given one or two afternoons off a week.

Maymont was at the cusp of many new inventions--such as electricity, central heat, modern plumbing and other new appliances.  The home also had central heat from a coal burning furnace.  It had three full bathrooms and two half baths with hot and cold running water.  They also have an Otis Elevator.  The laundress still had to wash clothes by hand and iron with a flatiron that had to be heated on the coal burning stove.

Just like on Downton Abbey, servants answered the call of the upstairs residents.

This is the stove in the kitchen.

The workers took their meals in the kitchen.

Off from the kitchen is the pantry.

The Laundry

Then we come to the Cold Room.  The door allowed the iceman to deliver once or twice a week to supply the large icebox.

This is the Maids' Room.  Notice they had work areas in their room.

This museum aid gives an idea of how much work one afternoon tea took for these servants.

Below stairs was furnished to date the Maymont period.  Only a few items are original.  The wall and trim colors replicate 1910 colors documented by microscopic analysis.

The Dooleys cared about their community and gave 3 million dollars that made it possible for St. Joseph's Orphanage to be built.  It continues to help families and children as St. Joseph's Villa today. When James Dooley passed away Sallie May Dooley gave 1/2 million to build the Richmond Public Library as a memorial to her husband.

Upon the death of the Dooleys, they left significant bequests to many institutions in Richmond. They left bequests to certain household employees as well.  I'm glad they also left the estate of Maymont to the City of Richmond to be used as a museum and park that first opened in 1926.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Maymont Mansion Second Floor

As we ascend the stairs from the center hall we are greeted by the magnificent Louis Comfort Tiffany window.  The day we visited was a lovely day and the sun was shining beautifully through this lovely window.  Alas, it is not easy to photograph into the sun even though it is shaded by this window.

A peacock greeted us on the way up the stairs.

The center hall was set up for bridge as Mrs. Dooley loved the game.  She would entertain her friends here in the afternoons.

This is the view from the bridge table. As you can see there is a third floor that was not on the tour.

Beside the stairwell, to the left, is a door for the servants to come up from the basement.  There is an elevator in this home all the way to the basement as well as additional stairs for servants to use.

Next to the center hall of the second floor is Mr Dooley's dressing room.

Then we come to his office.

Mr Dooley's bedroom.

Next door to Mr. Dooley's bedroom is Mrs. Dooley's dressing room.

This 18" waist dress was on loan from the Valentine Museum

This scrapbook reminded me so much of the paper dolls I used to make with my Nanny 

Then we come into Mrs. Dooley's Bedroom.  She obviously loved swans!

Louis Vuitton trunk

Tiffany chair made for Mrs. Dooley

Beautiful view upon leaving the front door 

I hope you will join me next to view the servant's quarters and kitchen of the Dooley Mansion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


In Richmond there are many lovely parks to enjoy.  Maymont is a wonderful park on the James River that was a gift to the citizens of Richmond.

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.

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  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.