Thursday, April 01, 2010

Swannanoa mansion ... the formal gardens

Formal Italian gardens are part of the grounds at Swannanoa mansion on Afton Mountain. These are very similar to the formal gardens located at Major James Dooley's Maymont mansion on the James River in Richmond.

Down limbs from winter storms can be seen throughout the grounds.


We found spring on the Swannanoa grounds.

The view was spectaculator. Imagine formal garden parties during the summer when this house was in its hey day ... ladies in long dresses, gentlemen in their tuxes, a small orchestra playing music that floated out over the nearby mountains....

More winter storm damage.

View of the back of Swannanoa from the formal gardens.

An ornate fountain built into the wall of the raised gardens.

Sunken garden area.

Fountain in sunken garden area.

Even today the landscaped areas are beautiful and a reminder of their formal glory.

In the days of the Dooleys, limbs and pine tags would never have been allowed to accumulate on the sidewalks like that. Gardeners would have kept the grounds in pristine condition.

I could sit all day and enjoy this view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

See more photos of Swannanoa mansion.

See related story cross-posted at The Washington Examiner.

Photos by SWAC Girl
Lynn Mitchell
24 March 2010


Rich Rittenhouse said...

the "wall of the gardens" formerly displayed "the four freedoms".

Carolyn said...

I have a photo of the statues that were in the ornate fountain built into the wall of the raised gardens taken in 1987. I can't seem to find anyone who has any photos of them. I would like to know what happened to them.

Karen said...

I was a dear friend of Lao Russell, as were my whole family. I grew up at Swannanoa, and I hope Lao's and Doctor's graves were not disturbed. Not many peole even knew where they were. I pray that the owner at least saved the Tifffany window of Sally Mae. Last time I saw it it was in severe danger of caving in. It Breaks my heart! Lao and Dr. worked themselves nearly to death to restore the mansion, and I know the toll it took on them. Anyone who knows ANYTHING, please contact me at I was very close to all her employees and if anyone knows of their whereabaouts, particularly Angela her assistant, I would love to know how to contact her. I first met Lao when I was 3. I am 50 now. These people are my family. It kills me what has happened to them. My # is 540-839-2990, anyone who has ANY INFORMATION,Please contact me!
bless you,

Karen Cobb