Tuesday, May 21, 2013

#544 Vacation Virginia #5 - Maymont

Richmond is only an hour east of Charlottesville, but we haven't made time for much exploring there, until Vacation Virginia #5.

Our goal: tour the Maymont house and walk their renowned Japanese garden.  On May 11, the day before Mother's Day, the grounds of Maymont are crowded with families when we arrive with our Richmond friend Sara.  But our tour guide Wendy manages our group well and introduces us to the Dooley family who built the house in 1893 and lived it in for 30 years.  We feel we have known the Dooleys for a while since we have often visited Swannanoa, their summer home (or mountain retreat) at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Maymont house is a complete example of the Gilded Age as it was bequeathed directly from the Dooleys to the city of Richmond and preserved.  The clutter is almost overwhelming, but we like the dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, the wide wood trim, the inviting library, the elaborate stained glass windows, and the numerous connections to Swannanoa.  The downstairs exhibits of the servants' lives bring Downton Abbey to mind.

Down a steep hill, past a natural waterfall over large stones and almost to the James River, we enter through a gate to the beautiful Japanese garden.

We end our day with a visit to the University of Richmond's International Center where Kelly enjoys the spectacular globe fountain.  Yes, he's pointing out the intersection of the equator and the prime meridian just south of Ghana. 

Yours in finally hitting some of Richmond's highlights,

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