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Maymont Park is one of the most scenic spots in Richmond, and it all began with James H. Dooley. A graduate of Georgetown College (now Georgetown University), he came into prominence during Richmond’s Reconstruction years. Dooley began a legal career soon after the Civil War and served in the Virginia General Assembly in the 1870s. He soon grew his wealth after becoming involved in real estate, railroads, steel, and banking.
By 1893, Dooley completed a large stone mansion built on a large estate overlooking the James River. He named it “Maymont” after his wife, Sallie May. They were among Virginia’s biggest philanthropists, and they left the estate to the City of Richmond to use as a museum and pubic park after their death. Today, Maymont is one of Richmond's biggest attractions and the city takes much care into its upkeep.
Lovers of the Victorian/Gilded Age aesthetic often drift towards the guided tours for the Dooleys’ mansion, where the only way to guarantee a tour is to purchase a ticket in advance. Here, visitors can take a peek into the lavish lifestyles of the American railroad tycoons at the turn of the century. Those who are more nature-inclined won’t be disappointed. There is still plenty to explore with 100 acres of land.
Many Maymont visitors are drawn to the park's two largest gardens: the Italian Garden and the Japanese Garden. While Dooley commissioned the gardens for the original estate, they underwent renovation in the late 20th Century to expand the gardens and better reflect the styles of the two cultures they represent. In the Italian garden, for instance, you will find many fountains, various levels, and geometrically shaped beds. In the Japanese Garden, visitors experience a "stroll garden" style that uses classic elements from Japan's biggest cities to offer changing impressions of natures as different areas come into view.
If you'd like to get out of the way of engagement photo shoots in the gardens, Maymont also boasts a diverse arboretum with more than 200 species of trees and woody plants. Children will also enjoy the Children's Farm, where Maymont keeps its farm animals. Various other creatures, many of whom are injured and cannot live in the wild also make their home in the park. As you explore the estate, you might come across bald eagles, black bears, foxes, deer, elk, and American bison.
Post photo by @kevinjkelleyphoto via Instagram.