Open house: Swannanoa set for summer touring

news-swannanoa-houseWarm weather offers a chance to tour some of these 52 rooms.

Swannanoa, the sumptuous 1912 Italianate palace near Rockfish Gap, will welcome the general public this year beginning the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, April 10 and 11.

Over eleven weekends, visitors will be able to tour not only the main floor but also the upper reaches including seeing its famed oversized Tiffany window and the towers that once gave Richmond industrialist James H. Dooley impressive views of both the Shenandoah and Rockfish Valleys.

Although trees have since grown up and the ravages of time and weather have taken a toll on the grounds, Swannanoa stands as one of the area's more impressive landmarks. For the $6 price of admission, visitors will be able to roam the house to see everything but the basement and some second floor bedrooms, says James F. "Phil" Dulaney, the lead owner in the consortium that has owned the place since 1942.

Dulaney says he's busy getting the place in order and pointing out that the peak of Afton Mountain received heavier snowfalls than Charlottesville and that at least 20 trees have fallen.

"It was a wild winter up there," says Dulaney. "We were buried under four feet of snow from December to just a couple of weeks ago."

For the latter half of the 20th Century, the mansion was home to an eccentric artist who fancied himself a scientist of life and love, then to his widow, and finally to their followers. However, the so-called University of Science and Philosophy moved out in 1998. Since then, Dulaney has made sporadic efforts to rehabilitate the property as a luxury inn.

"I've got a lot of plans," says Dulaney, who also owns the mouldering mountaintop assemblage of wrecked guest cottages closer to Interstate 64, "but a lot of it depends on the economy."


The house, located atop Afton Mountain, will be open April 10-11, May 1-2, June 5-6, July 3-4, August 7-8 and 14-15, September 4-5 and 11-12, October 2-3, 9-10, and 16-17 from noon to 5pm with an admission fee of $6 and kids free. Tickets sold on site. 540-942-5201

Read more on: swannanoa


Why would anyone care what a property owner does with their property? Don't like it, don't go- Think it should be retored? Buy it and do it. Don't want to rent it? Go somewhere else.

This is get news. For those who have never seen the house, it is well worth the visit. While in Richmond, one should also try to slip in a visit to Maymont, the main home of the original owner.

deleted by moderator

deleted by moderator

I remember going to see this grand place long ago and will never forget the elegant woman who stepped out on the balcony in a bright green evening gown and waved to us. The views are fantastic, and if you've never been, this is a spectacular place to see.

Swannanoa Palace should house someone who not only truly appreciates it but who also totally embraces the priviledge of restoring it to its original magnificense.

I recall hearing Dr. Timothy Binder say the Board of Directors of the University of Science and Philosophy was offered the opportunity of purchasing Swannanoa but no agreement was reached.

I would welcome the opportunity of living at Swannanoa and of writing the blueprint of The School of Love amidst its serene splendor just like Lao and Dr. Walter Russell were able to.

Under what terms would Mr. James F. "Phil" Dulaney allow me to live and work at Swannanoa?

Jeannette Mendez-de Jesus
5502 Casa Blanca Lane, #6
Orlando, FL 32807