A Palace in the Mountains

Posted on October 19, 2012 by


Tucked away in Afton Mountain and sitting on the edge of Nelson County is a place called Swannanoa Palace.

Nestled on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Swannanoa was built in 1912 by James H Dooley, a wealthy and prominent lawyer from the Richmond area. Intended to be a summer place for his family, James Dooley built the palace as a symbol of love to his wife, modeling the palace after the Villa Medici located in Rome, Italy. The house can be described as nothing less than lavish as it required 8 years of construction and boasted of terraced gardens, gold plumbing, and even a 4,000-piece Tiffany stained-glass window which was made to bear a likeness to Mrs. Dooley.


Although the mansion did not remain in the Dooley family for very long—and even changed hands several times—the current owner is hoping to bring it back to its former glory. The Swannanoa Palace is now in the hands of J. F. Dulaney, Jr. who is restoring the palace and even possibly making it into a bed-and-breakfast.

Although renovations are still ongoing, the palace offers small group tours to those who are interested in viewing this tucked-away jewel. However, although tours are offered, they are very limited and occur only a handful of times during the year.

Currently, tours of the mansion will only be available to the public this weekend (October 20th & 21th) and the first weekend of November (3rd & 4th). Call to schedule a tour today!

Swannanoa Palace located in Afton Mountain & Nelson County

The Swannanoa Palace