Founder’s Day is August 6 at Bellingrath Gardens and Home; Admission is free to residents of Mobile and Baldwin counties
Below is information on Founder's Day at Bellingrath and an invitation to Mobile and Baldwin County residents to enjoy a day at the Gardens, free of charge. Information provided by Sally Ericson, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Bellingrath Gardens and Home.
Bellingrath Gardens and Home will continue a longstanding tradition to celebrate the legacy of founder Walter D. Bellingrath by offering free Gardens admission to local residents on his birthday, Aug. 6.
“Over 80 years ago, Walter Bellingrath opened the Gardens to the citizens of Mobile,” said Dr. William E. Barrick, Executive Director of Bellingrath Gardens and Home. “To honor his birthday, we are offering free admission to the citizens of Mobile and Baldwin counties. Even though we are in the heat of summer, his Gardens are lush and full of color.”
Born in Atlanta on Aug. 6, 1869, Mr. Bellingrath was Mobile's first Coca-Cola bottler. He and his wife, Bessie, developed Bellingrath Gardens from a former fishing camp on the Fowl River, which they purchased in 1917. The Bellingraths opened the Gardens to the public for the first time on April 7, 1932.
The Founder’s Day tradition dates to 1949, when “Mr. Bell,” as he was affectionately known to his employees, placed an open invitation in the Mobile Press, asking his fellow Gulf Coast residents to come to the Gardens to help him celebrate his 80th birthday. Aug. 6, 1949, was also declared “Walter Bellingrath Day” in Mobile.
“It is an enjoyable and sincere privilege for me to invite the people of Mobile and adjacent communities to be my guests at Bellingrath Gardens this Sunday in observance of my 80th birthday,” he wrote.
“Those few of you who have felt the satisfaction of celebrating an 80th birthday with friends and neighbors will understand the gratification which I shall enjoy in having you visit the Gardens and join in observing the occasion with me.
“The Gardens now provide a cool, shady haven of natural beauty and their general Summer loveliness will provide a pleasant setting for the party. I sincerely hope that you and your family will honor me with your presence.
“Cordially, Walter D. Bellingrath.”
Mr. Bellingrath died in 1955 at the age of 86.
Bellingrath Gardens and Home is operated by the Bellingrath Gardens and Home Foundation, a charitable, not-for-profit organization. Bellingrath Gardens and Home is dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the 65-acre garden and estate home of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. For more information, visit www.bellingrath.org or call 251.973.2217.