Imagine yourself in a place where there are sparkling waterfalls, shady trees, and that feeling of peace and quiet instead of the constant thrumming of the city. There is a lush veil of green as far as the eye can see. The air is fresh; you breathe in deep, trying to get that fresh, clean taste inside of you. No, you're not dreaming, you're in Maymont.
Named Maymont for Major Dooley's wife Salley May Dooley, Maymont is like a door into another world and time. Major James H. Dooley's one-hundred acre estate is adorned with many exotic trees and is home to his Victorian style mansion. There are Chinese firs, Japanese varnish trees, Spanish red oaks, Irish yews, Norway maples, English hawthornes, and Atlas cedars. It is thought that there are only two Atlas cedars in the entire state of Virginia, and those are in Maymont.
The 1890 nineteen room mansion was richly furnished with whatever Mrs. Dooley desired. (It is obvious that the Dooleys were abundant in money). Whatever she couldn't buy was copied. Interesting things inside the house include: a dinner plate and cup & saucer that supposedly belonged to Napolean, a bullet from the battle of Waterloo, and a curio cabinet and jewel box that supposedly belonged to Marie Antoinette. Most known, however, are the three swan-shaped beds modeled after those of Marie Antoinette.
For Richmond, the Dooleys left Maymont to be used as a museum and a public park. Until 1941, the grounds at Maymont were well cared for. The approach of World War II left few people to care for the grounds. Thus, Maymont was in a very bedraggled state during and after the war. However, after the war, there was major interest in homes as such. There was much renovation and restoration to the Dooley estate. A wildlife exhibit started in 1969, from a gift given by the late William B. Thalhaimer. Closed in 1970, it was opened once again to the public in 1973, looking as it once had when the Dooleys were alive