Retirement plans

January 1, 2018

Retirement plans

Dr. William E. Barrick announces his plan to retire in July 2019. USA Today readers select Magic Christmas in Lights to the publication’s list of Top 20 Best Botanical Gardens Holiday Light Displays.

Read more

Edward Marshall Boehm

January 1, 2017

Edward Marshall Boehm

A new film about sculptor Edward Marshall Boehm is created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Delchamps Gallery of Boehm Porcelain.

Read more

Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame

January 1, 2016

At the 2016 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Bellingrath Gardens and Home is inducted into the Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame.

Read more

Awards

May 1, 2015

Awards

Dr. William E. Barrick receives two major awards: the American Horticultural Society’s 2015 Liberty Hyde Bailey Award and Auburn University’s College of Agricultural Outstanding Alumni Award for the Horticulture Program. 20th anniversary celebration of Magic Christmas in Lights.

Read more

Magic Christmas in Lights in USA Today

December 15, 2014

Magic Christmas in Lights in USA Today

USA Today includes Bellingrath Gardens and Home’s Magic Christmas in Lights on its list of the “10 Best Public Light Displays in America”; votes from online readers put Bellingrath in sixth place.

Read more

New Mirror Lake Bridge Completed

August 15, 2014

A new bridge across Mirror Lake is completed for use.  

Read more

Fifty Years of Cascading Mums

November 11, 2013

Fifty Years of Cascading Mums

Bellingrath’s Horticultural Staff marks 50 years of presenting the Fall Outdoor Cascading Chrysanthemum Display. The show originated from cuttings donated by Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania in the early 1960s.

Read more

Bellingrath Mums in Country Gardens

August 1, 2013

Better Homes and Gardens’ special interest publication, Country Gardens, features Bellingrath Gardens’ annual Cascading Mums Display.

Read more

Linda Guy Wins American Rose Society Bronze Honor

September 1, 2010

Linda Guy Wins American Rose Society Bronze Honor

Bellingrath Rosarian Linda Guy awarded American Rose Society Bronze Honor Medal.

Read more

Rose Garden Fountain

July 25, 2010

Rose Garden Fountain

On this date, the Rose Garden Fountain was officially dedicated. Before it arrived at Bellingrath, the fountain had been at the entrance to Bel Air Mall in Mobile, but was removed and put in storage during a mall renovation. Robinson…

Read more

Seventy-Fifth Anniversary

April 7, 2007

  The 75th Anniversary Celebration is held.

Read more

Updated Entrance Building

March 1, 2005

  The Entrance Building is remodeled.

Read more

Hurricane Ivan Damages Wharf and Pavilion

September 14, 2004

Hurricane Ivan strikes Mobile, damaging the wharf and pavilion at  Bellingrath.

Read more

Bellingrath Gardens and Home Foundation

July 8, 2004

Bellingrath Gardens and Home Foundation established.

Read more

Azalea Trail Maid Reunion

March 20, 2004

Azalea Trail Maid Reunion

Azalea Trail Maid Reunion attended by more than 750 former Trail Maids.

Read more

Friends of Bellingrath Established

April 1, 2003

The “Friends of Bellingrath” membership programs established.

Read more

A New Magic Christmas in Lights

November 24, 2000

Magic Christmas in Lights show is redesigned.

Read more

Dr. William E. Barrick as Executive Director

November 15, 1999

Dr. William E. Barrick is named Executive Director of Bellingrath Gardens and Home.

Read more

Good Morning America at Bellingrath

May 13, 1999

Good Morning America broadcasts from the Gardens. The show features former Junior Miss Diane Sawyer, and Faith Hill sings on the Great Lawn.

Read more

Bellingrath on America’s Castles

November 24, 1996

The “Garden Estates” episode of America’s Castles premiered on Arts and Entertainment Network television, featuring Bellingrath Gardens and Home. Bellingrath is the only Alabama property to be featured.

Read more

Harrigan / ExxonMobil Bayou Boardwalk Opens

October 5, 1996

Harrigan / ExxonMobil Bayou Boardwalk Opens

The Harrigan / ExxonMobil Bayou Boardwalk is opened to the public.

Read more

First Magic Christmas in Lights

November 25, 1995

The first Magic Christmas in Lights is held.

Read more

Bellingrath Wedding

November 11, 1995

Gardens are closed for the day. Catherine Bellingrath of Little Rock marries Pascal Weiss on the South Terrace at 1:00. Catherine’s great grandfather was Walter Bellingrath’s brother, Leonard Ferdinand Bellingrath. Over 200 Bellingrath family members are in attendance, many arriving…

Read more

Museum Director

January 2, 1994

Museum Director

On January 2, Tom McGehee becomes the Museum Director for the Bellingrath Home.

Read more

Grant from Exxon

January 1, 1992

Paving of sand paths and installation of handicap ramps throughout the Gardens is completed, funded by a grant from Exxon.

Read more

Bridal Garden Opened

March 14, 1989

Gardens announce the opening of a Bridal Garden. It replaces the short-lived Trial Garden.

Read more

Chapel Restored

December 15, 1982

Newly restored Chapel is dedicated, a gift from Wometco Enterprises, Inc. Leaded glass windows featuring flowers are installed as well as pews, a communion table and a pair of Italian brass chandeliers. Decoration handled by Stanley Ellis, George Downing’s stepson….

Read more

National Register of Historic Places

October 19, 1982

National Register of Historic Places

The Bellingrath Home is added to the National Register of Historic Places.  

Read more

New Entrance Building Opens

February 1, 1982

The new Entrance Building with enlarged parking lot is completed.    

Read more

Up In Flames

March 18, 1981

A forest fire on both sides of Bellingrath Gardens Road roars towards the Gardens, fed by blustery winds. Bellingrath employees, neighbors, and volunteer fire departments work to keep the fire away from the center of the Gardens and the Bellingrath…

Read more

Washed Out

February 10, 1981

Ten hours of rain brings 11 inches and the dam separating Mirror Lake from Fowl River overruns causing serious washouts. Spillway between Oriental-American Gardens also is washed out.

Read more

Mum Show

November 23, 1980

The public is invited free of charge to see the Mum Show and that the Gardens have recovered. Torrential rains arrive by mid-morning.

Read more

Gardens Reopened

March 1, 1980

Gardens Reopened

The Gardens are reopened for the bulb show. 135,000 bulbs, including tulips, hyacinths, narcissus, and jonquils are in bloom. At 10 a.m., rains came and the wind shifted, with 40 miles-per-hour gales. The temperature that night dropped to 18 degrees…

Read more

Hurricane Frederic Hits

September 12, 1979

Hurricane Frederic Hits

Hurricane Frederic strikes Mobile on September 12th. Bellingrath Gardens and Home is severely damaged. The damage is estimated to be over $6 million. More than 1,000 pine trees, 150 live oaks and 330 water oaks are destroyed by the storm….

Read more

Bellingrath in Southern Accents

December 1, 1978

    The Bellingrath Home is redecorated and featured on the cover of Southern Accents.

Read more

Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage

September 14, 1977

Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage

The Bellingrath Home is added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Read more

Preparing for the Worst

September 21, 1975

Gardens closed and Home boarded in anticipation of hurricane “Eloise.” Storm veers to the east and hits Florida Gulf Coast.

Read more

Disaster

August 14, 1969

Hurricane Camille strikes the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hurricane winds from the west topple numerous older water oaks throughout Gardens, especially near South Terrace and blocking entry and exit paths. No electricity for a week results in a generator purchase to…

Read more

Garage Becomes Gallery of Boehm Porcelain

March 9, 1967

Garage Becomes Gallery of Boehm Porcelain

The previously enclosed garage becomes the Bellingrath Gallery of Boehm Porcelain, displaying a collection donated by the Delchamps Family. The facility is dedicated on March 9, 1967. It would later be renamed after the Delchamps.

Read more

Assistant Landscape Engineer

January 1, 1965

Assistant Landscape Engineer

Pat Ryan is hired as Assistant Landscape Engineer.

Read more

Open House for Completed Construction

November 8, 1964

The completion of the South Terrace, Rose Bridge, Pet Motel, and Entrance Building, now home to the Cafe and Gift Shop, is celebrated with an open house, attended by approximately 12,115 visitors.

Read more

First Cascading Mum Display

November 3, 1963

First Cascading Mum Display

The first Cascading Mum Display is held. Stock plants for the cascade mums were obtained from Longwood Gardens in Kennent Square, Penn.

Read more

Entrance Building Construction Begins

January 1, 1963

Entrance Building Construction Begins

Construction begins on the new Entrance Building/Cafeteria.

Read more

Junior Miss

January 1, 1963

Junior Miss

Diane Sawyer, America’s Junior Miss, visits Bellingrath Gardens and Home. A photo from the event is used as a 15′ by 60′ billboard advertisement for Kodak in Grand Central Terminal, NYC.  

Read more

America’s Junior Miss Established

February 27, 1958

America’s Junior Miss is established with Fred Holder, manager of Bellingrath Gardens and Home, as its first president and George Downing, President of Coca-Cola of Mobile and Executive Director of the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation, as its treasurer.

Read more

Camellia Arboretum

January 15, 1958

M.B. Greene announces the new Camellia Arboretum, located behind the Summer House. Paths of zoysia grass and pine straw take guests past a variety of camellias, labeled with their variety. Completion is planned for the fall.

Read more

Help Needed

July 16, 1956

John Mark “Doc” Brown is hired as Mr. Greene’s assistant. He and his wife reside on the property in a house near the warehouse area.

Read more

Relocation

July 12, 1956

The Bellingrath Garden offices are officially moved from the Coca-Cola Bottling Company to the Guest House at the Gardens. The new offices are served by one Bell telephone line with two extensions.

Read more

New Director

July 11, 1956

Margaret Taylor Moore is hired as the new director for the Bellingrath’s Home.

Read more

Home Opens to Public

January 1, 1956

Home Opens to Public

Property is officially named “Bellingrath Gardens and Home”; Home opens to public for tours.

Read more

Death of Mr. Bellingrath

August 8, 1955

Mr. Walter Duncan Bellingrath dies at the age of 86 and is buried beside his wife at Magnolia Cemetery. After Mr. Bellingrath’s death, George Downing becomes Chairman of the Board of the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation. The House is prepared for the…

Read more

Retired

January 1, 1954

Retired

Mr. A.A. Hunt retires as Gardens manager after 20 years at Bellingrath. He was hired by the Bellingraths after they met him when he was working for the Rufus Mcllhenny family on Avery Island, La. Mr. M.B. Greene takes over…

Read more

Bellingrath-Morse Foundation Formed

August 6, 1949

Mr. Bellingrath, at 80th birthday celebration,  announces the formation of the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation. The Foundation is to maintain the Gardens and Home as a “fitting memorial to my wife,” as well as to benefit Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., Stillman…

Read more

Revamped

June 1, 1949

From June of 1949 until August of 1951, Hancock House of Memphis is hired to redecorate the Bellingrath Home. New draperies, valances and glass curtains are installed, numerous antique vases are converted into lamps, chairs and sofas are recovered, custom…

Read more

Death of Mrs. Bellingrath

February 15, 1943

Death of Mrs. Bellingrath

Mrs. Bessie Morse Bellingrath dies at the age of 64 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Read more

Guest House Built

January 1, 1939

Guest House Built

The old garage is replaced by a six-car garage with a four-bedroom guest house above. A private chapel is built at the south end of the structure.

Read more

Bellingraths Return to Surprise

July 18, 1938

The Bellingraths return from a visit to New Orleans to find a crowd of more than 200 friends and well-wishers in their driveway. A bronze plaque and stone bench had been installed in their absence. It thanks them for opening…

Read more

Bellingraths Published

January 1, 1938

January issue of Better Homes and Gardens features national coverage of Mobile’s Azalea Trail with numerous photographs of Bellingrath Gardens. The writer encourages everyone to see the “Flaming Drama of the South” when the azaleas are in bloom.

Read more

Home Sweet Home

July 4, 1936

The Bellingraths have their first meal in their new home. Construction of a proposed south wing to replace the Lodge is halted when Mr. Bellingrath discovers the total cost to date for construction.

Read more

Rose Garden Completed

March 15, 1936

The Rose Garden is constructed in the shape of the Rotary emblem. Walter Bellingrath was a charter member of the Rotary Club of Mobile in 1914.

Read more

Conservatory Construction Begins

September 23, 1935

Walter and Bessie Bellingrath contracted with New York firm Lord and Burnham to build what was termed a “conservatory and palm house” adjoining their Rose Garden. Lord and Burnham was famous for designing and building some of America’s most well-known…

Read more

Building Begins on the Bellingrath Home

June 18, 1935

Building Begins on the Bellingrath Home

Ground is broken for the 10,500-square-foot Bellingrath Home on the site of the north cabin. Rogers describes its exterior as “a mingling of French, English and Mediterranean influences.”

Read more

Gardens Open to Public

March 1, 1934

Gardens Open to Public

The property opens to the public year-round, with a $1 admission.

Read more

A Permanent Bellingrath Home

December 1, 1933

A Permanent Bellingrath Home

Visitors flock to Belle Camp’s Gardens throughout 1933. Mr. and Mrs. Bellingrath announce that they will open the property to the public year-round beginning in 1934. The Bellingraths ask George B. Rogers to design a home at Belle Camp for…

Read more

Mobilians First Visit Belle Camp

April 7, 1932

Mobilians First Visit Belle Camp

Belle Camp is essentially complete. The Rockery, Mirror Lake and bridge, Summer House, Fountain Plaza and waterfront are in place. The Bellingraths invite visiting delegates to a garden club convention to tour their garden. They invite Mobilians to see their…

Read more

Grotto and Flagstone Walkways Completed

January 1, 1931

Grotto and Flagstone Walkways Completed

Grotto is completed, along with series of runnels and fountains. Flagstones are obtained from downtown Mobile sidewalks. Mrs. Bellingrath paid for their removal and replacement with concrete, to the delight of City of Mobile officials.

Read more

Mobile’s First Azalea Trail

February 22, 1929

Mobile’s First Azalea Trail

Mobile’s first Azalea Trail opens. It includes the Bellingrath property on South Ann Street. The Bellingraths’ Ann Street neighbor, Sam Lackland, convinces them to become the first azalea garden to be opened on the “Azalea Trail,” which he designed after…

Read more

Search for Azaleas and Camellias

May 1, 1927

Search for Azaleas and Camellias

Mr. & Mrs. Bellingrath tour Europe for several months.  They are inspired by the beautiful estate gardens throughout Europe. Upon returning home, they hire Architect George B. Rogers to transform their camp into a garden estate. Rogers and Mrs. Bellingrath…

Read more

Electricity at Belle Camp

September 16, 1926

Electricity at Belle Camp

Electricity comes to Belle Camp with the addition of a generator that was installed in a wooden structure beside the garage. An entry in the Belle Camp guest register notes, “9/16/26 Dinner by electric lights for first time.”

Read more

National Mosaic Tile Company

January 1, 1920

National Mosaic Tile Company

Walter Bellingrath purchases the National Mosaic Tile Company. The firm produced a line of decorative and distinctive cement floor tiles, known locally as “Bellingrath tile,” and can still be seen in several landmark buildings in downtown Mobile, including the Saenger…

Read more

Belle Camp Creation

August 15, 1917

Belle Camp Creation

The Bellingraths purchase the former Lisloy Club overlooking Fowl River, a 25-acre property. It was a former men’s fishing club, and occupied a pair of rough cabins that had housed sawmill workers in the early 1890s. Bellingrath enlarges north cabin…

Read more

Marriage to Bessie Mae Morse

November 14, 1906

Marriage to Bessie Mae Morse

Mr. Bellingrath marries his former stenographer, Bessie Mae Morse.

Read more

Hurricane Floods Coca-Cola Facility

September 27, 1906

A hurricane strikes Mobile flooding the Coca-Cola Bottling Company that Walter Bellingrath had started only two years earlier. At that time, no radar warning systems of impending hurricanes existed. Instead, the local weather bureau raised a storm flag as their instruments indicated…

Read more

Mr. Bellingrath Arrives in Mobile

August 17, 1903

Mr. Bellingrath Arrives in Mobile

Mr. Walter Duncan Bellingrath arrives in Mobile to take over ownership of Coca-Cola Bottling Company at the age of 34. In the spring of 1903, Walter and his brother, Will, had purchased the Montgomery and Mobile Coca-Cola franchises.  They agreed…

Read more