The story of Maymont began in 1893, when a wealthy Richmond couple, James and Sallie Dooley, completed their elaborate Gilded Age estate on a site high above the James River. Upon their deaths and according to their wishes, Maymont—including its architectural complex, the 100-acre landscape, and a collection of exquisite furnishings—was left to the people of Richmond.
From Mrs. Dooley’s death in 1925 until 1975, the property was owned and operated by the City of Richmond. It became clear through the years, however, that the City could not maintain or restore the estate to its fullest potential. Therefore, in 1975, the Maymont Foundation assumed the role of manager, promoter and developer of Maymont under terms of an agreement and contract with the property owner, the City of Richmond. The organization accomplished incredible feats by the end of that first year – raised over $1 million, developed a long-term master plan, renovated buildings, cleaned gardens and more—under a watchful public eye and with a tiny staff.
Today, so much has changed and so much has stayed the same. Natural-setting wildlife habitats, the Children’s Farm and Nature Center have been added and maintained, while Maymont Mansion, the gardens and historic artifacts have been masterfully restored so that the Gilded Age estate looks much as it did as the Dooleys’ home from 1893 to 1925.
Now it takes $3.6 million per year to keep Maymont’s operations going. Every member of the community can help in so many ways. Become a member, join the Adopt an Animal program, attend events, give a donation. With almost a million people in the greater Richmond area, it would take less than $4 per person to operate Maymont for a year!
The foundation of the Foundation—then and now—is the desire to keep Maymont beautiful and accessible for every generation to come. For more information, contact us by email or by phone at 804-358-7166, ext. 310.
Head over to the Maymont Nature Center for some indoor fun!