On Saturday morning, Melony and Jenn showed up at Meadow House and we drove down to Afton, VA to meet about 50 members of DCUE at Swannanoa Palace. Thinking it was going to be a mild day, I didn't have a single hand warmer on me and immediately regretted this calamity as I stepped out of the car, Mr Dulaney, the owner, was inside the building and threw open a ground floor window as I approached. My face instantly froze as an arctic gale blasted my skin from the dark stone interior and I developed an immediate respect for this owner who showed no discomfort whatsoever. He then pulled open the huge wooden doors inlaid with bronze sculptures and I stepped back, not wanting another frigid freeze to hit me. Letting everyone in he apologized for the lack of heating but it was understood that this was an expense he couldn't afford. People walked in but I stood back, planning on returning to photograph the interior once some of the air from outside had warmed it up a little.
After having waited about an hour or so I ventured inside the house. It was still freezing within, colder than a morgue, making it easy to believe that the palace could well be haunted, as believed by some paranormal groups who have spent nights there.
Outside some of our intrepid explorers had discovered another building which most of us hadn't been aware of, so we walked down a path to find it.
It's very difficult to take in all the details on one visit, so much love and effort had been put into the creation of this place that I feel it's an actual crime to let it fall into disrepair. I find it hard to believe that if a consortium owns this then surely there must be funds available to restore the palace or an interest to raise money for those purposes, but after walking around and researching on the internet, it's apparent that there sadly is no interest in preserving this treasure. Mr Dulaney was extremely hospitable and accommodating but I discovered that he also owns the Afton Inn, which has steadily declined and is now ruins, a link is here.
After seeing everybody's photos I plan to return in the fall to capture some more shots of this wonderful place while it is still in relatively good condition, but I don't know how many more winters it can survive the elements without any repair work being done. I usually love an abandoned building and appreciate its crumbling haunting beauty, but this is one place which should not be allowed to reach that point. Shame on those who do allow it, and those who can let this beautiful and original work of art disappear forever.
This is a link to a book published last year, click on the photos at the bottom to show the palace in better times.