History Other Swannanoa News

Has Anyone Ever Been to Swannanoa Palace?

Most Swannanoans would probably agree that our hometown has a beautiful name, so it should come as no surprise that others thinks so, too. In a prior edition of this e-newsletter, we told you how the name “Swannanoa” was carried all the way to New Zealand back in the 1800s by a transplant from North Carolina. The town of Swannanoa, New Zealand still exists today.

Swannanoa PalaceOne of our readers, Dave McMahon, sends news of another Swannanoa. This one is the “Swannanoa Palace”, located on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Afton, Virginia. According to Wikipedia, Swannanoa Palace was Swannanoa Palace near Afton, Virginia built in 1912 by Richmond, Virginia millionaire and philanthropist James Dooley as a token of love for his wife Sally May. And it’s quite a token indeed – 23,000 square feet, complete with Georgian marble, Tiffany windows, gold fixtures, and terraced gardens. The Palace has changed hands a number of times through the years; it’s been home to a country club, a moonshine distillery, and the University of Science and Philosophy, among other things. It’s currently privately owned, and though the house and grounds have fallen into disrepair (and are rumored to be haunted!), it’s open seasonally for tours. Has anyone been on a tour? And does anyone know where Mr. Dooley came up with the name “Swannanoa Palace”? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to pass along that information.