Swannanoa is an Italian Renaissance Revival villa built in 1912 by millionaire and philanthropist James H. Dooley (1841–1922) above Rockfish Gap on the border of northern Nelson County and Augusta County, Virginia. It is partially based on buildings in the Villa Medici, Rome. Intended to be a "summer place" for Richmond, Virginia, millionaire and philanthropist James H. Dooley and his wife Sarah "Sallie" O. May, it reportedly took over 300 artisans eight years to build the structure, complete with Georgian marble, Tiffany windows, gold plumbing fixtures, and terraced gardens. Built as a token of love from husband to wife, the depth of James and Sallie May’s relationship was represented in the 4,000 piece Tiffany stained-glass window and a domed ceiling bearing the likeness of Mrs. Dooley. Despite the lavish expenditure, it was occupied only for a few years following completion in 1912. The mansion stood empty through the Great Depression and World War II and has shifted ownership many times over the years. Plans are in the works to turn it into a bed and breakfast, though extensive repairs are needed.
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