About the Mansion
In 1886, James and Sallie Dooley acquired farmland on the banks of the James River, where they planned to build a new home. Their architect, Edgerton Stewart Rogers (1860-1901), born and educated in Rome, combined the Romanesque Revival style with the picturesque Queen Anne for the Dooley residence. By 1893, the Dooleys were living in their new 12,000 square-foot, 33-room home, which they named “May Mont,” a name which combines Mrs. Dooley’s maiden name and the French word for hill.
Among historic house museums, the Maymont Mansion is rare in that no intervening families or adaptive conversions separate us from the original owner’s 32-year occupancy. Despite the fact that no architectural drawings or other early records of its construction and design have survived, its physical integrity and ongoing research has provided a solid base of documentation. Within six months of Mrs. Dooley’s death in 1925, the mansion was opened to the public as a museum. The upper floors’ interiors and a large original collection remained relatively untouched until the beginning of the restoration in 1970. Since the nonprofit Maymont Foundation took responsibility for the estate in 1975, extensive conservation and restoration have greatly enhanced its authenticity, condition, and presentation.
Thus today, Maymont Mansion is a well-preserved document of Gilded Age design and the taste of well-educated, cosmopolitan millionaires. The house also illustrates the dynamic interplay between server and served, working class and upper class and black and white through a compelling exhibition in its restored belowstairs rooms – the culmination of a decade-long research project that was completed in 2005.
MAYMONT MANSION IS CLOSED TO GUESTS.
Take a virtual tour of the mansion!
Gilded Age Design
When you enter Maymont Mansion’s upper floors, you step into the luxurious world of James and Sallie May Dooley. Tour 12 restored rooms on the first and second floors and view items on display from the Maymont Mansion Collection.
Restoration of Maymont’s kitchen, wine cellar, laundry, butler’s bedroom, maids’ bedroom, butler’s pantry, and other service areas was completed in May 2005. Through eight period rooms and informational panels, visitors can now meet specific employees and consider their lives in and outside the workplace.
Diverse perspectives of the woman suffrage issue existed at Maymont, where Sallie Dooley and her sisters-in-law found themselves on opposite sides of the issue, and African American women felt resistance due to their gender and their race.
Technology in the Gilded Age
Cutting-edge comforts of the 1890s—central heat, indoor plumbing, telephone service, an elevator and more—made the Dooleys’ home one of the most modern in Gilded Age Richmond.
Gilded Age Fashion
Spanning the 1890s to the mid-1920s, the Maymont era was a time of dramatic change for women’s clothing. The Maymont costume collection primarily focuses on the fashions of the early years, the 1890s, including fashions for a variety of different social occasions.