Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont – The richly furnished country house and working studio of American impressionist painter Gari Melchers (1860-1932) can be seen as they appeared in the 1920s. Explore the colorful formal gardens and wooded hiking trails of the artist’s 27-acre retreat. Enjoy special exhibitions of the art of Melchers and his contemporaries.
The artist and his wife used all of their artistic skills to combine the Georgian–style house, the studio, the many gardens and wild spaces into one living, organic portrait, all of which combine to make for an interesting and compelling visit. The stone studio and galleries house the largest collection of Melchers’ works anywhere, with 1,677 paintings and drawings by Gari Melchers and an additional 414 works by other artists. Belmont is warm and inviting, like a moving romance novel that draws you in to the couple’s 29–year marriage, bringing the artifacts to life and creating a deeper connection to Gari, Corinne and their lives together on this lovely estate. Many of the pieces come from the time the two spent together while Gari was painting in Europe and include a French Savonnerie carpet, a Dutch Rococo secretary, and stacks of Chinese export china, as well as other interesting objects d’art. As one of the most respected artists of his era, and an influential advocate of the arts, Gari Melchers typified our country’s cultural vibrancy at the dawn of the 20th century. The historic structures and collections of Gari Melchers Home & Studio form a key part of his international legacy.
Belmont Natural Areas
When Gari and Corinne Melchers purchased Belmont in 1916 they acquired a stately house and 22 acres with gardens, hayfields, pasture land and woodlots. Over time, they bought land along the Rappahannock River, an old canal which had fed water power to the mills that once operated in Falmouth, and neighboring lots to create buffer zones on the northeast side of their property. When Corinne Melchers donated the property to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1942 she wanted the estate to serve as a memorial to her husband, an art center, and as place where people could come and enjoy the natural areas.
Today the estate contains 27 acres of land situated on a ridge overlooking the falls of the Rappahannock River. The river was a major transportation route for area Native Americans, and the falls were a crossroads where Algonquian speakers of the eastern coastal plains and Siouan speakers from the western Piedmont met. The high ridge served as a place to keep a look-out while making tools such as hand axes and spear points, many of which have been found on the grounds. The Rappahannock also brought European settlers to the area; they used the water to power mills and ship their goods to Europe from the bustling harbor in Falmouth.
During the Melchers era, the fields surrounding the estate were either hayed or used as pasture for the cows on the farm. In addition to the dairy, the farm supported chickens and turkeys, and before the purchase of the tractor in 1942, horses, which were used to pull a hay rake and other agricultural machinery. Letters and diaries refer to the “pastoral” feeling of Belmont, and it is apparent that Corinne and Gari Melchers enjoyed a close relationship with nature. In cooperation with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Gari Melchers Home & Studio has converted parts of the former pasture into a wildlife habitat. In the spring of 2000 the fields were planted in warm season native grasses mixed with wildflowers to provide food and nesting places for butterflies and birds. A simple path, where the grass is kept short, circumnavigates the fields to allow visitors a close-up experience. Both fields are easily viewed from the main garden for visitors who prefer to stay on pavement.
Nature Trails at Belmont
Several trail heads lead from the garden or fields to the falls of the Rappahannock River or into the woods, following a small stream that runs through mature woodlands. Interpretive markers feature descriptions and photographs detailing historic resources along the trail. The trail is approximately 1 ½ miles long and passes remnants of an old ice pond, the canal that powered mills in Falmouth, a cemetery and a spring. View the Trail Map.
At the Rappahannock River visitors can fish or observe the shad running in the spring. Bald eagles, herons and many other species of birds are observed on a regular basis. Volunteers from the local chapter of Master Naturalists and Virginia Master Gardeners conduct woodland tours the last Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. Please note: Terrain is varied; sturdy footwear is recommended. Held rain or shine, except for severe weather. Dogs not permitted. No registration is required. Free.
The trails are open 10 am – 5 pm.
Pet Policy: The grounds and trails are perfect for walking your pets, but please keep them securely leashed at all times. Pets (except service dogs) are not allowed in any building. All pets must be leashed on museum grounds for their own safety as well as the comfort of our other guests. Please be courteous of others and pick up after your pet.
We invite you to consider the Gari Melchers Home and Studio as the setting for your wedding, reception, bridal luncheon, evening event or business meeting. The stunning Studio Pavilion at Belmont, situated in an elegant woodland setting, is connected to the artist’s original studio building and opens onto the estate’s gardens.