September 24, 2022

Picturing New Connections: Belmont Event Targets Alzheimer’s

Let’s Go to the Fair!
Thursday, September 8, 10:30am
Gari Melchers Home & Studio

Gari Melchers Home & Studio is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Richmond Chapter, to offer Picturing New Connections—a small, welcoming program for people with early stage memory loss, their families or care partners. These interactive tours include guided discussions in the studio and gallery space, followed by a hands-on art experience. Emphasis is placed on engaging participants through music, touch and smell. Each hour-long program features a unique theme, paintings and art project.

PLEASE REGISTER PRIOR TO THE EVENT. SEATING IS LIMITED TO 12.

Gari Melchers Home & Studio charges a $5 fee per person for participating.

Questions? Please contact GMHS Education and Communication Manager Michelle Crow-Dolby.

Jody Wilken: Belmont Blooms

If Corinne Melchers could see the gardens at Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont today – bursting with blooms in pinks, purples and yellows – Jody Wilken hopes she’d be pleased.

Master Gardener Jody Wilken is landscape lead at Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont

Master Gardener Jody Wilken is landscape lead at Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont

As landscape lead at the 18th-century estate of the famous American artist and his wife, Wilken is tasked with maintaining the standards of natural beauty set forth by the late Mrs. Melchers. Records of what she planted and Garden Club of Virginia guidelines provide a template for maintaining the historic grounds, which Wilken embellishes with her own expertise.

“The discipline of having to stay within a timeframe is helpful to me,” she said. “Left to my own devices, it would probably be more of a hodgepodge of plants that I love.”

She was already in the weeds, as they say, when she landed her current position in December 2019. Having worked part time at Belmont for years alongside predecessor Beate Jensen, Wilken knew the flow of the seasons. Summer’s filled with weeding and watering. Fall means planning for warm weather’s return. Winter’s for paperwork catch-up and tending less prominent areas of the 27-acre property. And spring? Well, spring is showtime!

Wilken grew up fascinated with her grandfather’s Ohio farm and her grandmother’s complementary green thumb. Now a Master Gardener, she’s shared her expertise with others through stints at the local extension office, the Fredericksburg Farmers Market plant clinic and Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She earned the Southern Garden History Society’s Young Professional Grant earlier this year, and grows tomatoes, melons, peppers, onions, garlic and herbs at her Stafford County home.

“I guess it’s in my blood!”

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: When I’m out on the grounds and people ask about certain plants. It’s nice to be complimented. I take a lot of pride in my work.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: The physical aspect of it, especially in the heat of a Virginia summer. The plants need to be cared for regardless of weather, and they don’t care if the gardener is hot, sweaty and tired. I have to be careful not to overdo it.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Spring, although it’s also the busiest. The gardens at Belmont really put on a show from late March through early June.

Q: What’s your favorite plant?
A: I know it sounds crazy, but I don’t have one. My favorite color in plants is deep blue, uncommon in the plant world. I have an iris at home called “blue suede shoes.” It’s gorgeous.

Q: What’s your favorite flower-filled area at Belmont?
A: The four triangle beds planted with antique roses and hundreds of tulip bulbs and daffodils in spring.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I spent 21 years as a flight attendant and didn’t really start gardening until I retired in 2001.

Q: How do you spend your free time … other than gardening?
A: My husband and I are passionate about good food. Chopping and prepping is relaxing for me. I’m also an avid downhill skier, but I don’t get to do that enough in Virginia!

Belmont Hosts ‘Home for the Holidays’

Belmont, the historic home of artist Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne, will celebrate the season, with decorations on view Nov. 24 through Jan. 25, 2018. In the 1920s, the Melchers took great delight in festively decorating their elegant country house during the holidays. Although Gari Melchers divided his time between his commercial headquarters in New […]

Melchers Museum Staff Receive Preservation Award

Three members of the staff at the Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont have been honored by the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation for their work in preserving the Fannie Roots House.   Fannie Roots House Director David Berreth, Preservation Manager Beate Jensen and Building and Grounds Assistant David Ludeker received the foundation’s E. Boyd Graves Award for Preservation Excellence. The announcement was made at a recent foundation award ceremony. The historic Fannie Roots House, adjacent to the Gari Melchers museum, belonged to Fannie Roots, an African American civil rights activist and Stafford County citizen. The home was purchased by her family in 1912. The family, including Fannie as a teenager, did occasional work for the Melchers family. Fannie lived in the home until her death in 2004. The restoration project was started in 2009 by UMW students and members of the community and included stabilization and weather proofing. More extensive work including roof replacement and chimney restoration was completed in 2013 with grants from the Duff McDuff Green Jr. Fund of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock Region, The Marietta M. and Samuel T. Morgan Jr. Foundation, the Dr. H. Stewart Jones Trust and the Fredericksburg Savings Charitable Foundation. The next phase of the restoration will focus on renovating the house’s interior to allow more in-depth historical interpretation for the public. For more information on the Fannie Roots house and restoration project, contact Beate Jensen at (540) 654-1839.

Belmont to Open Historic House

Gari Melcher’s Home and Studio at Belmont will open the historic Fannie Roots House to the public for the first time on Sunday, November 9.   Fannie Roots House Dating back to the 1880s, the house is a rare example of a post-civil war workman’s cottage. A presentation on the history of the house and restoration work will begin in the Studio Pavilion at 2 p.m. before tours of the house. The event is free and open to the public. In 1912, the building was purchased by Willie Roots, an African-American laborer who did occasional work for Gari Melchers.  Roots’ daughter Fannie, a well-known citizen of Stafford County and a civil rights activist, was born in the house and lived there her entire life. The building did not have running water, so Fannie relied on an outhouse and well. There was electricity for phone and lights, but she used a wood stove for heating and an oil stove for cooking. Restoration on the house began in 2008 when Belmont became the steward of the property. With support from private citizens, businesses and volunteers, the house is receiving a new roof and a rebuilt kitchen chimney, among other restorations. Work was made possible with grants from the Fredericksburg Savings Charitable Foundation, the Duff McDuff Green Jr.  Fund of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region and the Marietta M. and Samuel T. Morgan, Jr. Foundation. The house still requires pest control, landscaping and other projects. For more information on the restoration project, contact Beate Ankjær-Jensen, Site Preservation Manager, at (540) 654-1839.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio to Host Film Screening

Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont will host a screening of the new documentary “The Great Confusion: The 1913 Armory Show,” produced by 217 Films, on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.   image001Terri Templeton, filmmaker and executive producer, will introduce the film and hold a question and answer session afterwards. The screening is free and open to the public. The film highlights the historic and controversial International Exhibition of Modern Art, located in a New York City  armory in  1913.  Known simply as the “Armory Show,” the exhibition changed the face of art in America, giving many Americans their first taste of a new, revolutionary kind of art. “The more we dug deeply into the history of the Armory Show,” said the film’s director, Michael Maglaras, who also wrote the film and narrates it, “the more it became clear to us that, with this exhibition focused on ‘the new,’ we had truly entered the American century: the century of our greatest achievements as a nation and the beginning of our preeminence on the world stage.” From February 17 until March 15, 1913, Americans by the thousands pushed their way through the doors of the 69th Regiment Armory to experience “Modern Art” for the first time.  What they saw annoyed and infuriated some, and captivated, delighted and inspired many. President Theodore Roosevelt, upon visiting the exhibition, called the most modern of these works “repellent.” That was just the beginning of the controversy surrounding this historic exhibition. What resulted from these four weeks of mass exposure to European artists such as Cézanne, Renoir, Van Gogh and the upstart Marcel Duchamp with his “Nude Descending a Staircase”—as well as such Americans as Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Charles Sheeler—changed how Americans came to understand their own times. “The Great Confusion:  The 1913 Armory Show” features works by more than 60 American and European painters and sculptors.  The film probes deeply into the history of how the show was organized; examines the critical efforts of American artists such as Arthur B. Davies, Walter Pach, and Walt Kuhn; and explores the impact that the show had on collectors of art as well as ordinary citizens. For more information, call Gari Melchers Home and Studio at (540) 654-1015 or go to garimelchers.umw.edu.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Hosts Egg Hunt, April 13

Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont will host its third annual Beeping Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 12. The free event, held from 1 to 3 p.m., provides visually impaired and blind children and their families an opportunity to participate in a non-traditional Easter egg hunt. Children explore the grounds of Belmont during the annual Beeping Easter Egg Hunt. The specially designed plastic eggs, built and donated by the Stafford County-based International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, emit a beeping sound that allows visually impaired children to retrieve the eggs using their sense of hearing. The event also includes “touch” and “verbal imaging tours” of Gari Melchers' studio and home, which will allow visitors to explore the various features of Belmont. Games, Wegman’s-sponsored healthy snacks, a visit with the Easter bunny, a miniature horse petting zoo and a “Touch a Tractor” station will round out the day’s activities. Families should RSVP to the egg hunt at (540) 654-1851 by Wednesday, April 9. The event will be held rain or shine. Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Va., a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge. The museum also serves as the official Stafford County Visitor Center.  For directions and other information, call (540) 654-1015 or visit the museum website at www.GariMelchers.org.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Hosts Open House, April 6

Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont will host a spring open house on Sunday, April 6. The museum will open its doors free of charge to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., allowing visitors to experience the 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The gardens and ground of Belmont will be open to the public on Sunday, April 6. During the open house, the colorful formal gardens and the grassy woodland paths and trails will be open for guests to explore. The house museum and studio will be open for tours throughout the day. Belmont invites amateur and professional artists of all media to use the house grounds as inspiration for their work, and picnicking on the grounds is also encouraged. The property, both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark, is located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg. Public hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. For directions and more information, call (540) 654-1015, or visit the museum website at www.GariMelchers.org.

Book Collector, Appraiser Spoke at Belmont

Allan J. Stypeck, co-host of the former NPR program “The Book Guys,” presented a talk on book collecting at Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont on Sunday, Oct. 13 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Stypeck, a senior member of the American Society of Appraisers and noted antiquarian bookseller and appraiser, offered appraisals on books, manuscripts, maps, ephemera, photographs and recorded materials for museum visitors. Stypeck also is owner of Second Story Books, the landmark Washington, D.C. rare bookstore.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio houses books from Gari and Corinne's private collection.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio houses books from Gari and Corinne’s private collection.

The program is included in the cost of admission to the museum. Reservations are required at (540) 654-1843.

Artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne were both book connoisseurs. Despite his studio schedule demands, Gari Melchers devoted his morning hours to the newspaper, made time for a novel or history book and enjoyed studying the pages of art books. Corinne Melchers loved the classics, contemporary novels, biographies and books related to her interests in painting, horticulture and American cultural history.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by UMW, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Va., a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge. The museum also serves as the official Stafford County Visitor Center. For directions and other information, call (540) 654-1015 or visit the museum’s website.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Restores Dining Room

After two years of planning, fundraising and the work of three fine art conservators, Gari Melchers Home and Studio can now showcase a completed and restored version of the dining room décor enjoyed by Gari and Corinne Melchers during their time at Belmont.

The dining room at Belmont has been completely restored to its 1920s state.

The dining room at Belmont has been completely restored to its 1920s state.

The couple’s furnishings deteriorated over the years due to the damaging effects of light, temperature and age, and were no longer representative of the elegant surroundings where the Melchers relaxed and entertained in the 1920s. The completed restoration included the repair and refurbishing of nine original dining chairs, four of which were reupholstered in silk fabric comparable to the original seat covers.

Other work included the repair of the dining room table, repair and re-lining of the original 104-year-old drapes and mending a large Persian Mahal carpet.

Furniture conservator William Ivey of Richmond and upholstery conservator Jennifer Zemanek of Cobbs Creek, Va., completed the chair work for the dining room. Rug conservator Spier Rahn repaired the carpet.

The dining room refurbishing is a continuing effort spanning two decades with a goal to restore the buildings and gardens of Belmont to their 1920s appearance.

Presently, the house, studio and several dependencies have been fully restored. The carriage house was restored and converted into a visitor center and the formal gardens returned to their original design and content.

The home’s paintings and household furnishings were conserved on a regular schedule with permitting funds. The dining room project at Belmont was the highest priority on the museum’s collection conservation list.

The following foundations provided grants to fund the dining room restoration: Fredericksburg Savings Charitable Foundation; Gwathmey Memorial Trust; Duff McDuff Green, Jr. Fund of The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region; Dr. Helen Stewart Jones Trust; Margaret Walker Purinton Foundation; and the Roller-Bottimore Foundation.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by UMW, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Va., a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge. The museum also serves as the official Stafford County Visitor Center. For directions and other information, call (540) 654-1015 or visit the museum’s website.