Hills and Dales estate, Lagrange Georgia
On Saturday a group of us met in Newnan for breakfast before heading to LaGrange for a tour of the Hills and Dales estate. The original house was built in 1832 by Mickelberry & Nancy Ferrell. Nancy started the gardens. In 1835 her daughter Sarah and her husband Blount Ferrell moved to LaGrange. Sarah expanded the gardens and tended them until her death in 1903. Fortunately, the gardens were spared when the Union Army marched through LaGrange. Blount Ferrell died in 1908 and the gardens went unattended until 1911. Blount offered to sell the estate to the city of LaGrange in 1890 but the city council would not approve the money for the purchase. In 1911 Fuller E. Callaway purchased the 90 acre estate for $8,000. He commissioned the famous architect Neel Reid to design a new home for his family him, his wife Ida and their two children, Cason and Fuller Jr. The house was completed in 1916 and officially opened on Fuller and Ida’s 25th wedding anniversary. The Callaways renamed the estate Hills and Dales. Ida restored and further expanded the elaborate gardens. By 1919, the house and gardens were featured in magazines such as House Beautiful, House and Garden, etc. Fuller died in 1928 and Ida died in 1936. Fuller Jr. and his wife Alice moved into the house in 1936.
Alice took over the care of the gardens and they were opened to visitors in 1937. In 1948 the house was partially redecorated by Philip Trammell Shutze and interior decorator Sarah King Small of Atlanta. Fuller Jr. died in 1992 and Alice in 1998. The estate was left to the Fuller E. Callaway foundation to be used for the enjoyment and instruction of the public. The visitor center was completed and the estate opened to the public in 2004.
Just as an aside, Fuller’s big brother Cason developed Callaway Gardens. Obviously, this family had a lot of women who loved nature and gardening and we are reaping the reward of their efforts. (It helped to have husbands with money to hire laborers).
The tour of the house was very interesting and many original pieces remain. With all of its elegance, it still has the feeling of a very comfortable home. The views from every window are magnificent. Unfortunately, we did not tour the rest of the now 35 acre estate gardens as the temperature had soared to 96 degrees with a heat index of “hell”. The visitor center was kind enough to make our tickets good for a year so we can re- visit at no charge when the weather moderates. We did have several photo opportunities (no photos allowed inside the house) but we are looking forward to a return visit to photograph those gardens which we saw on video before the tour.
Our next stop was a late lunch at Frank’s in Palmetto, Ga. This is one of those hometown places that club member Ray Whitaker told us about and it was a find. The food was delicious and every entrée and dessert was super sized portions.
This is just another great advantage of our car club. We get to explore places in every little town and learn some fascinating history in the midst of beautiful surroundings after arriving in our beautiful “rides”. And we always find great places to EAT and we always have great FUN!
See you next time!
Linda Penfield - Trip Queen for the Day
Members on Trip
Linda and Norman Penfield
Darelene and Coleman Armstring
Darr and Budd Neidig
Ray Whitaker and Guest
Bernice and Harvard KniffenThomas Boyland