The Beauty of Bellingrath Gardens
In 1903, Walter Bellingrath was one of the first three investors in a new company called Coca Cola. Needless to say, he picked a winner. He was a workaholic all his life, and by 1917, his doctor advised him to buy an abandoned fishing camp on the Fowl River southeast of Mobile, Alabama, so he could “learn to play”. For the next seventeen years, he and his wife spent what free time they had, creating a Southern masterpiece. Bessie Bellingrath planted every kind of flower that would grow in the Gulf Coast location. Walter supervised the construction of paths and walls and fountains. Greenhouses were built to grow tropical plants, and a large circular rose garden was planted with rare varieties. Large ponds were excavated, Trees were planted, and a boat pavilion was built along the river.
By this time Coca Cola was big, really big. Mr. Bellingrath diversified, and his wealth increased. It was time to build their brick mansion in the garden, overlooking the river.Their dream home was completed in 1935. Mrs. Bellingrath furnished the rooms with antiques from Europe and the Orient. They never had children of their own, but there were many nieces and nephews who spent many happy days with their aunt and uncle.
Sadly, Bessie passed suddenly in 1943, but Walter would live another twelve years, watching his garden mature. He created a foundation to ensure that the home and gardens would live on as a memorial to his wife. Today it is a place where guests can stroll among the giant trees, marvel at the Roses, and have a home cooked meal in the Garden Cafe. Weddings are regular happenings here, and Christmastime finds excited lighting displays in all parts of the property.
Along the Fowl River…
Magnolia in bloom in front of home…
The largest room in the house, the Dining Room.
Pond Lily lamp, my favorite Tiffany creation.
A small part of an extensive collection of China, Silver, and Crystal.
Walter Bellingrath’s Bedroom and Portrait…
Dining on the Terrace overlooking the River…
Needlepoint portraits of Gen. Stonewall Jackson, Pres. George Washington, and Gen. Robert E. Lee on the brick wall of the Dining Terrace.
Rear Porch and Boat Landing.