"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
Next event
Featured Promotion

Immerse yourself in Virginia's history by visiting one of our exhibitions.

 

The Story of Virginia
Join us on Monday, May 27 @ VMHC for a full day of activities for all ages. Honor Virginians lost in #WWII during a… t.co/DgKAn2YYLj

Belmont, Gari Melchers Home and Studio

Address: 224 Washington St., Fredericksburg, VA 22805
Phone: 540.654.1015
Web site: http://garimelchers.umw.edu/

In 1992, the Garden Club of Virginia agreed to restore the garden at Belmont in Falmouth, across the river from Fredericksburg.  Belmont was presented to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1942, to be used as a Gari Melchers Memorial and Art Center. 

Gari Melchers (1860-1932) was a successful American Impressionist who bought Belmont in 1916 as a retreat from New York.  But he continued to stay busy, leaving his wife, Corinne, to manage their hideaway.  Corinne stayed at Belmont until 1942, when she donated it to The Commonwealth of Virginia to be used as a Gari Melchers Memorial and Art Center.  It landed finally in the lap of the University of Mary Washington and is now administered as the Gari Melchers Home and Studio.

Belmont has a long history. The north half of the white frame house was built about 1790 and had three owners before 1823, when it was sold to Joseph Ficklin, a young businessman who set about making his fortune. Not until 1843 was he ready to marry and move in.  Soon widowed, he remarried and had 6 children with his second wife.  They enlarged the house, added the east porch and horseshoe stone steps with magnificent wrought iron railings down to the Long Walk, and laid out the garden.      

 Corinne Melchers kept the original design, rebuilt the arches over the Long Walk, added color to the beds and roses nearly everywhere.  Recently discovered orders of plants and trees are enormous.  She planted fruit trees, designed a new entrance to the drive, planted six American Elms on the west side of the house, and built a stone studio/gallery.  She turned the Grove, a wooded hillside at the south end of the Long Walk, into a garden full of laurel and shade-loving flowers, with a path winding down to the river and along the streambed.  Her final addition, based on one she admired at Mount Vernon, was an octagonal summerhouse at the top of the hill overlooking the Grove.

It was this garden that the GCV was asked to restore.  Work began in 1993, under the direction of Rudy Favretti, then landscape architect to the GCV. He based his work on records then available, but as research continues, a true restoration is now ongoing.

(Click on image to
see larger version
)

Description

1.  Visitors Brochure prior to Garden Restoration work, ca. March 1991.

Published Materials, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2

2.  Conceptual Restoration Plan, January 1992, by Rudy J. Favretti.

Drawings, Belmont
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3.G1673 a Section 3

3.  Initial Working Site Plan for Belmont, ca. 1992.

Drawings, Belmont
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3.G1673 a Section 2

4.  Landscape Restoration Plans, August 1992, by Rudy J. Favretti.

Drawing, Belmont
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3.G1673 a Section 3

5.  Plan: Arbor and Planting Details, August 1992.

Drawing, Belmont
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3.G1673 a Section 3

6. Letter, 1986, of Peter Dun Grover to Mrs. Henley Guild regarding possible landscape restoration.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

7.  Letter, 1989, of Peter Dun Grover to Mrs. Lilburn L. Talley reporting estate renovations progress and requesting garden restoration funds.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

8.  Letter, 1991, of David Berreth to Mrs. Robert L. Hopkins, Jr., regarding eligibility for Garden Club restoration funds.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

9.  Letter, 1991, of David Berreth to Mrs. H. Gordon Leggett, Jr., serving as a formal request for garden restoration funding.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2

10.  Memorandum, 1991, of Rudy Favretti to Mrs. H. Gordon Leggett, Jr., concerning the feasibility of garden restoration and a cost estimate.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2

11.  Letter, 1991, of Mrs. Leggett to David Berreth announcing support from the GCV Restoration Committee for Belmont as its next project.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2

12.  Letter, 1992, of Rudy Favretti to David Berreth concerning a conceptual garden restoration plan and projected maintenance requirements.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2

13. Memorandum, 1982, of Rudy Favretti to members of the Garden Restoration Committee regarding the preliminary proposed restoration plan.

Correspondence, Belle Grove.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2

14.  Program, 1994, for the Presentation of the Restored Gardens to Belmont by The Garden Club of Virginia.

Miscellaneous, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2

15.  Remarks, 1994, by Rudy Favretti, at the Presentation of the Restored Gardens at Belmont.

Miscellaneous, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3

16. Letter, 1994, of Mrs. Benjamin W. Mears, Jr., to David Berreth regarding the Presentation of the Restored Gardens at Belmont.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

17.  Letter, 1996, of Mrs. Paul W. Meneth to David Berreth regarding a phase two to the landscaping project at Belmont.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

 

18.  Letter, 1996, of Rudy Favretti to David Berreth regarding plans for landscaping around the Belmont Visitor Center, with planting specifications and a site plan.

Correspondence, Belmont.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4

 

Browse more images

 

If you would like to browse The Garden Club of Virginia collection in the online catalog, click here.

Last updated: June 1, 2017