By Dr. F. Todd Lasseigne Executive Director To me, one of the joys of visitors…
By Tom McGehee, Museum Director of the Bellingrath Home
Mobile history buffs have a chance to learn more about Bellingrath Gardens and Home’s renowned architect, George B. Rogers, during the weekend of March 11-12.
The featured home on this year’s Historic Homes Tour near downtown Mobile is the Turner-McElhaney Home, designed by Rogers for Marshall Turner in 1922. The Spanish Revival gem with its matching garage stands on the southeast corner of Government and Monterey streets.
Rogers designed many homes and buildings in Mobile, but his crowning achievement was Bellingrath Gardens and Home. In 1927, Rogers was hired by Coca-Cola bottler Walter D. Bellingrath and his wife, Bessie, to transform their Fowl River fishing camp into a garden estate. Five years later, the couple opened the property to the public and in 1935 began construction on their 15-room mansion.
Rogers did double duty, acting first as a landscape architect and then as the architect to the couple’s home, which he described as “a mingling of French, English and Mediterranean influences.” The 80th anniversary of its completion is being recognized this year.
The home tour, which benefits the Historic Mobile Preservation Society, will coincide with the peak weekend for azalea blooms at Bellingrath Gardens and Home, and those who attend the home tour are encouraged to come to the Gardens to see more of Rogers’ designs.
The Azalea Trail Maids will stroll through the Gardens as a reminder that Mobile’s famed Azalea Trail got its start thanks to the Bellingraths’ azalea garden, formerly on South Ann Street.
In addition, the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery will be conducting a free, two-hour walking tour of the cemetery located at Ann and Virginia streets on Saturday, March 12, at 10 a.m. The largest monument in Magnolia Cemetery belongs to the Bellingraths and is also attributed to George B. Rogers.