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Davis Mansion Architectural History

The Davis Mansion and Lions

Mansion Lions 

Meet Morven Park’s lions! These stoic creatures have been standing guard at the edge of the mansion portico for over 200 years. In 2013, the lions had a brief respite from sentry duty when they were removed for conservation due to rust forming around old repair sites. Originally cast in pieces, the lions were dismantled, cleaned, reassembled, and painted before returning to their post. To help ensure that they continue keeping watch for another 200 years, please refrain from climbing or leaning on the lions. Thank you! 

Davis Mansion 

Welcome to the Morven Park mansion, also referred to as the Davis Mansion. This impressive manor house, in the Greek Revival architectural style, is the result of five major periods of construction undertaken by four different owners! The structure began as a small stone house built between 1780 and 1800, which now comprises the northwest corner of the mansion, followed by a central brick two-and-a-half-story dwelling. In 1825, owner Thomas Swann, Sr. decided to upgrade his home to a Greek Revival mansion. He added the columned portico to the gable end of the brick house and constructed small two-story wings to either side, connected to the central block by colonnades. When his son Thomas Swann, Jr. took over ownership, he added Italianate towers to the mansion and all existing outbuildings in 1858. During the Civil War, troops from both sides commented on the towers of "Swann's Castle." In 1886, the next owner, Mary Mercer Carter (née Swann) removed the two central towers and increased the height of the flanking wings to be equal to the central block, creating the mansion façade we see today. When the Scott family purchased the property in 1901, they expanded the mansion by adding a wood-frame wing to the back and extending the kitchen and servant quarters on the south end. They also added utilities such as electricity, indoor plumbing, and steam heating. When Westmoreland and Marguerite Davis purchased Morven Park in 1903, the mansion and all the outbuildings had been updated and fully modernized. The Davises were the final private owners of Morven Park.