Swannanoa's Beauty

Tara Johnson

Fishersville, United States

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Artist's Description

©Tara Sheffer-Archie 2008 All rights are reserved.

This is my second photograph of Swannanoa. Again, below is the history behind the structure.

Swannanoa is a Medici-style Italian villa located above Rockfish Gap in eastern Augusta County, Virginia. Rockfish Gap is the southern end of the Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park and the northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Intended to be a “summer place” for Richmond, Virginia, millionaire and philanthropist James H. Dooley and his wife Sallie, it reportedly took over 300 artisans eight years to build the structure, complete with Georgian marble, Tiffany windows, gold plumbing fixtures, and terraced gardens. Despite the lavish expenditure, it was only occupied for a few years following completion in 1912.

The mansion stood empty through the Great Depression and World War II until it was leased in 1949 to the eccentric author and sculptor Walter Russell for his “University of Science and Philosophy”.

Today the property is owned by J. F. Dulaney, Jr. of Richmond, who has been attempting to restore the property to its former glory.

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