January 22, 2009
Media Contact: Carla Murray, Assistant Director of Marketing
804-358-7166, ext. 315
NEW! ELEGANT ENTERTAINING IN THE GILDED AGE:
A MAYMONT MANSION EXHIBITION & PROGRAMS
A millionaire’s mansion in the Gilded Age was the scene of elegant social occasions that were carefully planned, flawlessly presented and carried out by a host of well-trained servants. This spring, those elaborate affairs of yesteryear come to life in Maymont Mansion’s temporary exhibition, “Elegant Entertaining in the Gilded Age,” on display Tuesdays-Sundays, March 29-June 21 from 12-5pm. Rooms in the home will be authentically arrayed for the Dooleys’ most extravagant affairs: an 1898 reception for 400 of “those most prominent in Richmond’s society,” a “very brilliant” evening function in 1906, a 1912 luncheon for the nation’s governors, and exclusive dinner parties. Through vintage photographs, beautiful clothing of the era, lavish table settings and floral displays, the exhibition and associated programs will highlight the turn-of-the-20th-century social whirl in Richmond and beyond. From the Richmond scene to Newport’s multi-millionaire set, “Elegant Entertaining” draws back the curtain and allows a glimpse into America’s era of gracious living.
From the moment that guests step through the mansion doors, the Gilded Age entertaining begins. Above the doorway, a charming reproduction of a decoration from the Dooleys’ 1906 reception – the Latin word Salve (Welcome) inscribed in pink roses – greets all who enter. In the Dining Room, the table is stylishly set for a 12-course meal, complete with china, silverware, glassware and linens, and the tour guide describes what’s on the menu and the proper planning and preparation for a multi-course feast. The Pink Drawing Room tea table is laden with petit fours, cucumber sandwiches and dainty cakes for Mrs. Dooley’s weekday social calls, and the Dooleys’ Gorham silver tea service and Haviland demitasse set are on display in the Blue Drawing Room where ladies “withdrew” after dinner for coffee and conversation. Throughout the mansion, beautiful floral arrangements, in keeping with Mrs. Dooley’s love and knowledge of flowers, adorn mantels, large urns and fireplaces.
Upstairs, elegant evening gowns are exhibited to show what the Dooleys’ guests might have worn for different occasions. A rose-colored silk and chiffon dress and a green satin gown, both on-loan from the Valentine Richmond History Center, would have been worn for the Dooleys’ February 1898 reception, while an Edwardian black silk-trimmed gown with lace and jet beads would have been perfect for the 1912 luncheon for visiting governors. Of course, there’s also gentlemen’s attire on display – a tailored frock coat, top hat, white gloves, starched collars, silk waistcoat and spats.
Even the mansion basement is prepared for a grand occasion. There, visitors can see turtles soaking in a bucket for turtle soup, a James River shad in the fish cooker, a rack of lamb just out of the oven for the roast course, ice cream-making in the kitchen pantry, and all the other ingredients and equipment brought into service for the 12-course meal.
Opening-day festivities on Sunday, March 29 include in-depth tours with costumed guides, charming scenes re-created throughout the rooms by elegantly-attired Victorian ladies and gentlemen, and a special afternoon tea and presentation. (See details below).
General daily admission to Maymont Mansion is free. However, donations are requested, and fees are required for special programs and tours. The mansion is located at Maymont’s Hampton Street entrance at 1700 Hampton Street; free parking is available. For more information, call Maymont at 804-358-7166, ext. 329.
ELEGANT ENTERTAINING IN THE GILDED AGE: SPECIAL PROGRAMS
NEW! HIGH CALORIC CONSUMPTION: DESIGNING FOR GILDED AGE ENTERTAINING AT MAYMONT
Presented by Richard Guy Wilson, Architectural Historian
Wednesday, March 25, 6pm, Garden Hall
Richard Guy Wilson, host of the long-running series “America’s Castles,” will present an illustrated talk on Gilded Age mansions designed as the opulent settings for lavish entertaining. Chairman of the University of Virginia Architectural History Department, Director of the Victorian Society Summer School in Newport, and author of the recent book “Harbor Hill: Portrait of a House,” Dr. Wilson will explore the sumptuous summer residences of Newport’s elite, the exclusive estates of Long Island, Richmond’s own Maymont Mansion, and other opulent showplaces of the era of conspicuous consumption. A reception will follow the lecture. $12 per person/$10 members. Register by March 23; call 804-358-7166, ext. 329.
NEW! MAYMONT’S ELEGANT ENTERTAINING IN THE GILDED AGE
Tuesdays through Sundays, 12-5pm, March 29-June 21, Maymont Mansion
A millionaire’s mansion in the Gilded Age was the scene of elegant social occasions carefully planned, flawlessly presented and carried out by a host of well-trained staff. This special exhibit and associated programs highlight the social whirl in 1890s Richmond and beyond. Guided tours are available every half hour; the last tour begins at 4:30pm. $5 suggested donation. For information, call 804-358-7166, ext. 329.
EXHIBITION OPENING DAY:
NEW! MRS. DOOLEY’S BRILLIANT SOCIAL SEASON AT MAYMONT
Sunday, March 29, 2pm, Garden Hall & Maymont Mansion
Enjoy tea during an illustrated talk featuring every aspect of Gilded Age entertaining—the decorations, the cuisine, the dress, the duties of the gracious hostess and all the well-trained staff who put on the grand show. Complete the afternoon with a special tour of the elaborately decorated Maymont Mansion, in which elegantly costumed ladies and gentlemen create picturesque tableaux. Tea, program, and tour: $20/$15 members; costumed tour only: $10 per person/$5 members. Register by March 27; call 804-358-7166, ext. 329.
NEW! ELEGANT ENTERTAINING CURATOR’S TOUR AT MAYMONT
Fridays, April 17, May 1 & 15 and June 5 & 19, 12-1pm, Maymont Mansion
On this in-depth tour, guests will experience the style and grace of an era known for elegant occasions and attention to detail. Vintage photographs, luxury clothing, table settings and lavish floral displays bring Mrs. Dooley’s brilliant social season to life as the exhibit curator offers exclusive insights into entertaining traditions of the Gilded Age. $7 per person. For information, call 804-358-7166, ext. 329.
NEW! WINE BASICS FOR ELEGANT ENTERTAINING AT MAYMONT
A Workshop Conducted by Bob Talcott of Can Can
Saturday, April 25, 1-3pm, Garden Hall
In this lively, informal class and tasting, Bob Talcott, wine specialist for Can Can, will explain everything you always wanted to know about selecting and serving wine. Learn how wining and dining have changed over the years and see Major Dooley’s wine cellar. $35 per person/$30 members (wine tastings included). Register by April 24, call 804-358-7166, ext. 329.
NEW! GREAT BUILDERS, GREAT GARDENERS:
VICTORIAN ENGLISH COUNTRY HOUSES OF THE NATIONAL TRUST
A lecture sponsored by the Maymont Council for Conservation, Preservation and Restoration
Wednesday, May 6, 12-2:30pm, Garden Hall
Architectural and garden historian Giles Clotworthy, who served for 25 years as the British National Trust’s Marketing Manager for historic sites in England’s West Country, will offer a lively, illustrated presentation on English houses and gardens of the Maymont era. Discover the shared passion among English and American estate owners for collecting exotic specimens to ornament their elaborate grounds. $15 per person (includes lunch and lecture). Register by May 4; call 804-358-7166, ext. 329.
NEW! MRS. DOOLEY’S LACE TEA AT MAYMONT
Saturday, May 9, 2-3:30pm, Maymont Mansion Lawn
Enjoy a proper Victorian tea on the lawn of Maymont Mansion as your hostess relates the finer points of entertaining during the Gilded Age—card parties, lavish decorations, gracious hosts and guests, and all the staff that put on the grand show. This memorable afternoon is enhanced by a visit to the mansion, where elegantly costumed ladies and gentlemen recreate picturesque scenes in the elaborately decorated home of Major and Mrs. Dooley. $25 per person/$20 members. Registration suggested; call 804-358-7166, ext. 329.
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