The Dooley Mansion
Maymont was once the country estate of the James and Sallie Dooley who bequeathed the entire property, gilded age mansion and its contents included, to the people of Richmond for use as a park. The city ran the park from 1925 until 1975 when the Maymont Foundation took over day-to-day operations and began raising money for long overdue renovations.
Happy lantana smothers the path to a gazebo.
There is much to see at Maymont, but true to our natures, we were most interested in the gardens. The two largest are the Italian and the Japanese, which are connected by waterfall and a run of interesting stairs. There is a large pergola flanking the Italian garden with a domed room at one end. I remember this pergola as a wonderful tangle of wisteria, but that is gone now. Peggy Singlemann, the director of horticulture, told us they had to dig out 2' feet of soil in each bed of the garden in order to remove all of the wisteria's roots and seedlings. She also told us that she found the garden's original urns buried under a brush pile. The most amazing thing she told us was that she and two other people are the only horticulturists on staff for the whole park. Like us, they could do very little without the help of volunteers.
What I took away from my visit to Maymont were certain similarities it has in common with the place I work. Both are municipally owned properties, with aging infrastructures, that are managed by a non-profit foundation (or in our case a society) of dedicated, hard working volunteers and employees.