This $15 guided tour of the three-story, 31-room Callaway home known as Hills and Dales in LaGrange, Ga. and its self-guided, unhurried tour of the garden is well worth a visit. Along with ample luxurious furnishings and Italian villa architectural interest on the exterior, guests view the living areas and nine bedrooms, nine bathrooms, and a third floor game room with a British pub theme. Lagrange is 66 miles southwest of Atlanta.
Textile magnate Fuller E. Callaway, Sr. and his wife had a good life, but even better, they shared fully with the community of southwestern Georgia, opening their garden to area residents except on Sunday. Their family foundation carries on good works today.
Callaway’s vision that he conveyed to architects Hal Hentz and Neel Reid in1914 was that “This home will be the first I have ever built and probably the last, so naturally the whole proposition is something that is very close to my heart.” Completed in 1916, the home blends with the formal boxwood gardens planted in 1832 by Nancy Ferrell and expanded by Sarah Coleman Ferrell, the daughter of the property’s former resident.
Ferrell created words and mottos out of boxwood in the gardens; for example, “God” is inscribed in the plants. Ferrell was reportedly inspired from the Genesis verse about God creating heaven and earth.
A greenhouse built in 1916 and remodeled in 1949 showcases anthurium, begonia, bougainvillea, calla lily, ferns, orchids and more. Alice Callaway, a Hills and Dales resident from 1936 to 1998, said, “From gardening I have learned three things: patience, perseverance and acceptance…”
A pool and bathhouse was added to the property by Alice and Fuller Callaway Jr. in 1941; however, it was replaced in 2004 with a terrace and fountain, eliminating the pool, as the property began to be readied to open to the public.
The Callaways’ caring ways extend to umbrella usage in the event of rain. So, don’t fret if a light sprinkle is forecast. You’ll be able to stroll the gardens with a written guide in hand along with a borrowed umbrella if necessary, so allow time for this part of the visit as well.
As visitors enter the estate, the visitor center and gift shop can orient guests with the brief seven-minute film that gives an overview of the family, and is available for starting on request. After that, a tram can take you to the front door of the elegant home where a tour guide will fill you in on the family members’ names, the home’s history and contents. Six large wooden columns with Ionic caps support the semi-circular terra cotta roof that covers the portico where the tour begins.
Seasonal lectures, special exhibitions and holiday tours are among the offerings here. For more information, visit www.hillsanddales.org or call 706-882-3242.