Swannanoa – October 6, 2019

My cousin, Jude, her son, Shawn, and Wayne and I had the opportunity to visit Swannanoa during an open house on October 6, 2019. I’d last visited this Italian Renaissance Revival marble palace in the early 1980s when Walter and Lao Russell occupied it, and I looked forward to seeing it again.

Built in the early 1900s by James Dooley for his wife, Sally May, it was intended to be their summer home. Their main home, the Romanesque-style mansion, Maymont, is in Richmond, Virginia. While Swannanoa has not been as carefully maintained as Maymont (which was bequeathed to the City of Richmond), one still has to marvel at the skills of the hundreds and hundreds of artisans and craftsmen who created this lavish mountaintop palace….

Details above the front entrance:

Foyer and staircase, with Tiffany window:


Persian Room (Smoking Room)

Dining Room (Ceiling) and Breakfast Room mural:


Upper Hallway:

Stairway to servant’s quarters:

Master bedroom fireplace & west view:

Upper hallway floor detail:

Another look at the beautiful stained glass window:

Music room details:

Shawn and Wayne on the front porch:

Small garden and fountain:

Back of house and roof detail:

Jude, and view of the Rockfish Valley from the formal gardens:

I love Jude’s “Sloth Hiking Team” t-shirt. 🙂

Wayne taking a break on the first level of the terraced garden:

I was so busy making my way up the stairs that I neglected to take a picture of the pergola at the top of the terrace, but this old postcard shows how the gardens looked between 1929-1932:

The water tower was fascinating. It once held 20,000 gallons of water in a tank in the center of the tower.

At some point in time, water flowed from these rocks, down a little stream (which one could cross via a stone bridge), and into a small pond:

We greatly enjoyed our visit to this “hidden gem of bygone opulence” on Afton Mountain.

This entry was posted in Adventures & Travels and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Swannanoa – October 6, 2019

  1. Adrianne Boyer says:

    Absolutely beautiful photos and so happy you all enjoyed your time at Swannanoa! Thanks for sharing your stunning pictures 💗📸

  2. John O Gilmore Jr says:

    Thanks for the memories! I missed Walter but I can say Lao loved me. I loved it when they had many of Walters paintings on the walls. Did you find the “Power Point” in the back yard? Absolutely fine photography! Thanks again.

  3. Georgia says:

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful photographs.

    If you look carefully at a circular medallion of a swan near the front door you will see an oar tucked under the wing – Swannanoara.

Comments are closed.