Happy Birthday Maymont, let’s party

March marks the 90th year that Maymont has been open to the public and it’s an occasion worth celebrating.

From the press release:

A world beyond imagination opened to the citizens of Richmond in March 1926. For the first time, the entire community was invited to step inside the gates of Maymont. The 100-acre Gilded Age estate was an extraordinary gift to the City of Richmond from James and Sallie Dooley who lived there from 1893 to 1925. With no children to inherit their home, they gave the property – including a 33-room mansion, picturesque outbuildings and beautiful gardens – for all to enjoy. Just six months after Mrs. Dooley’s death, the magnificent showplace opened to enthusiastic masses, and crowds quickly grew so large and eager that police were brought in to control entry to the mansion museum.

Ninety years later, Maymont continues to be one of the most popular attractions in the Richmond region. To commemorate the generations of family fun and memories at the estate, Maymont will host a 90th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, April 17 from 12 to 5pm on the Carriage Lawn and at Maymont Mansion. Festivities will include:

Floral Carriage Parade: A parade of horse-drawn carriages, decked out in spring finery and driven by members of the James River Driving Club, is a charming highlight of the celebration, inspired by Mrs. Dooley’s participation in a floral carriage parade in 1900. Guests will vote for their favorite for the People’s Choice Award.

A Show of Fashions, 1893-1925: The changes in dress that took place for men and women while the Dooleys lived at Maymont are revealed during a lively show of fashion and history. From corsets and tailored walking suits to bathing costumes and flapper dresses, Maymont’s costumed interpreters bring the past to life as each outfit is described in the context of the changing times.

Antique Automobile Exhibit: It’s easy to see the Dooley era’s dramatic transformation in transportation in the exhibit of fine automobiles alongside carriages, just like a scene from the streets of Richmond in 1925. The variety of well-designed machines will include a carefully restored 1904 Rambler, a 1915 Model T Roadster, a luxurious 1929 Rolls Royce and a 1931 Pierce Arrow. Period chauffeurs, who doubled as mechanics, enhance the time-traveling experience.

1920s-era Jazz Entertainment: With stomps, rambles, lowdown blues, rollicking Dixieland and pop ballads, Zuzu’s Hot 5 entertains the crowd with sounds from the most tumultuous and creative era of American music, 1910-1931.

Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church: The uplifting strains of the John Jasper Memorial Choir and the Movement Ministry fill the air during a performance by members of Richmond’s historic Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church. Artifacts from the Church’s museum, also celebrating its 90th anniversary, will be on display.

Historic Carriage Exhibit: Maymont’s Carriage Collection includes more than 25 examples of vehicles used during the Gilded Age. On exhibit in the Carriage House and on the Carriage House Lawn, the colorful Thalhimer delivery wagon, the humble goat cart, the majestic Roof Seat Break, the Ladies’ Phaeton and many others represent transportation of bygone days.

Family Crafts and Games:   Old-fashioned games and family crafts will delight all ages. Guests are invited to make paper flowers and chains, a 1920s flapper headband and a Victorian toy to capture the spirit of the day. The Fairy godmother welcomes helpers to decorate one of Maymont’s fanciful carriages, too.

Food Trucks: A variety of culinary delights will be available from some of RVA’s best food trucks.

Mansion Tours: Guests will travel through Maymont Mansion’s amazing journey as it opens to the public in the 1920s, deteriorates during a period of neglect, and is transformed into a stunningly restored and preserved house museum. Vintage photographs show the estate, both indoors and out, when it first opened, and candids from the 1920s through 1960s illustrate the enjoyment Maymont has provided its guests for decades.

Since 1975, Maymont has been maintained and operated by the private nonprofit Maymont Foundation. The Foundation must raise more than $3 million each year –more than 80% of its operating budget – through donations to keep the estate open to the public.

The Carriage House Lawn and the Maymont Mansion, locations of the anniversary celebration, are located at Maymont’s Historic Estate Entrance at 1700 Hampton Street in Richmond. For event details and updates, visit our website or call 804-358-7166, ext. 329.

Image: Maymont

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Richard Hayes

When Richard isn’t rounding up neighborhood news, he’s likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest craft beer.

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