A Gift to Posterity
The site of the famed gardens was originally a semi-tropical jungle on the Isle-Aux-Coirs River.
In 1917 the property was acquired for a private fishing lodge by Walter and Bessie Morse Bellingrath... The primeval beauty of the land and setting inspired them with the idea of developing one of the major garden shrines of the world. In 1927 they toured America and Europe in their study of renowned gardens and horticultural research. In the same year they began the transformation of the these woodlands into what has since become a Mecca for Garden lovers the world over. On May 3, 1932, the gardens were opened to the public for the first time. Walter and Bessie Bellingrath had realized their dreams of creating here the charm spot of the deep south which will remain an ever recurring Pageantry of color for all mankind to behold on February 1, 1950, Mr. Bellingrath conveyed the gardens in perpetuity, to the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation for religious and educational purposes. All proceeds from admissions to the grounds, above the cost of maintenance are donated to churches and educational institutions named in the trust agreement.
Walter Duncan Bellingrath
Bessie Morse Bellingrath
Founders of these gardens
Walter Duncan Bellingrath
was born in Atlanta, Georgia, August 6, 1869. He moved to Alabama with his parents in 1879and to Mobile in 1904. Blessed with deep convictions, and understanding, mind and spiritual guidance. Mr. Bellingrath became one of the south's great leaders in industry, church, educational and civic affairs. Always generous with time and money to all worthy causes, his life a challenge to the youth of America.
Bessie Morse Bellingrath was born in Mobile, May 20, 1878. She was richly endowed with and appreciation of everyone beautiful, enhanced by innate respect of God's way and the magnificent of his great outdoors. With her inherent artistry and talent and alway encouraged by her husband. They dreamed of, planned for, and completed these lovely gardens. Ever contributed unsparingly to church, civic charitable causes.
In grateful appreciation of the architect, designer and builder of theses gardens the buildings within them.
George B. Rogers
Fellow, American Institute of Architects
Studied architecture in the united States, France, Spain and Italy. After a distinguished career in New England, he came to Mobile in 1901. Alabama's chapter of the American Institute of Architects paid him this tribute:
"Gentle, scholarly George B. Rogers has been one of architecture's greatest assets in Alabama;
in our modern times no man in this state had recorded a more impressive list of fine accomplishments."
It was his interpretation of our dreams which resulted in the perfection of these gardens, Walter Duncan Bellingrath and Bessie Morse Bellingrath