Hills & Dales Estate
Pine Mountain, GA - Events of Tuesday, April 4, 2012
Hills & Dales Estate is the home built by Fuller and Ida Callaway, who were the parents of Cason Calloway, founder of Callaway Gardens. Hills & Dales is located about half an hour from Pine Mountain in LaGrange, GA. The estate was named for the sunny hills and shady dales in the area. Tuesday was our last day staying in Pine Mountain, and we drove to LaGrange to visit Hills & Dales Estate.
Mike and Gerri told us about Hills & Dales when we met them for lupper a few days before. Hills & Dales turned out to be a hidden gem. The home is lovely, the tour is excellent, the staff is friendly and hospitable, and the gardens are beautiful. For some reason, even though the estate has been open to the public since 2004, it's not even listed in the AAA Guide Book. We would have never found out about it if it hadn't been for Mike and Gerri.
The home, which is a blend of Italian and Georgian styles, was completed in 1914, but the history of the gardens goes back to the 1800s. In 1841, Blount and Sarah Farrell returned to LaGrange from Florida to live on property that belonged to Sarah's parents. Upon their return, Sarah expanded a garden begun by her mother in 1832. Sarah's garden was officially named The Terraces, but it was commonly called Farrell Gardens. By the 1870s and 1880s, the gardens had grown in size and had won wide acclaim throughout the southeast for its beauty.
Sarah Farrell welcomed visitors to her garden, and one of the frequent guests was Fuller Callaway. Late in her life, Sarah encouraged Fuller to purchase her property. Sarah Farrell died in 1903, and Blount Farrell died in 1908. A few years later, Fuller and Ida Callaway did buy the property where they planned to build a new house. First, however, they set about restoring Sarah's then-neglected gardens.
There is a very well-done video with the history of the Farrells and the Callaways and of the gardens and the home. After watching the video and exploring some of the displays at the visitor center, we rode the tram to the house.
We had an excellent tour conducted by a very informative, knowledgeable docent. We were the only ones on the tour and had plenty of opportunity to ask questions. We learned many interesting details about the home, its history and about the Callaway family.
Unfortunately, as is frequently the case, photography isn't permitted inside the house, but we can tell you a little about the history and show you the gardens.
The house was designed in 1914 by the noted Atlanta architect firm of Hentz & Reid. It is built on a hill overlooking the gardens on the site of the original Farrell cottage. The 13,000 square-foot house has over 30 rooms and is constructed from stucco and Indiana limestone with a tile roof. Construction took 15 months and cost $125,000. That doesn't sound like much, but it is the equivalent of almost $3 million in today's dollars.
Fuller Callaway died in 1928. After Ida passed away in 1932, Cason's younger brother Fuller, Jr. moved into Hills & Dales along with his wife, Alice, and their children. Following the death of Fuller, Jr. in 1992 and that of Alice in 1998, the estate was bequeathed to the Fuller E. Callaway Foundation and opened to the public in 2004 according to the wishes of the Callaways. The home is displayed with original furnishings and family heirlooms, and it looks much the same way it was at the time of Alice Callaway's death.
After the tour of the house, we were free to roam the gardens and the greenhouse.
Alice Callaway converted part of what used to be the Callaway family vegetable garden to create the Ray Garden where she grew roses, ornamentals and annuals.
The greenhouse, which was originally constructed in 1916, was remodeled in 1949 by Alice and Fuller Callaway, Jr.
The greenhouse is maintained to look much the same as it did in Alice's time. It is filled with tropical plants and orchids.
To the south of the greenhouse is the Church Garden, which is the oldest part of the gardens where Sarah Farrell first did her planting in 1841.
We walked the terraces of boxwood and magnolias behind the house listening to the birds and enjoying the peaceful shade. There are numerous azaleas in the garden; but like most of the azaleas at Callaway Gardens, the flowers were done. There were, however, splashes of color here and there from pansies and violas.
Also from the terraces, you can get splendid views of the house itself with more splashes of color from snapdragons.
At the southeastern corner of the garden is the Bird Gate. This wrought-iron gate was commissioned by Alice Callaway.
From the Bird Gate, it was a short walk to the tram stop where there is an intercom for guests to call to request the tram for a ride back to the visitor center. However, there is also a nice path, and it's only a 10-minute walk to the visitor center. It was such a beautiful day, and we were enjoying listening to the birds so much, we opted to walk.
Our visit to Hills & Dales brought us to the end of our stay in Pine Mountain. We highly recommend a stop at Hills & Dales if you're going to be in the vicinity of LaGrange, GA.
We also loved Callaway Gardens. Even though the azaleas were past their peak, there were still some azaleas in bloom for us to enjoy, at least until the rain hit on Friday night and Saturday. We enjoyed just walking the peaceful woodland paths and listening to the birds. We also liked the Birds of Prey show, the Day Butterfly Center and the Sidley Horticultural Center.
After we left Hills & Dales, we drove back to the motor home and started packing up and preparing for our departure. We headed out for Summerdale, AL the following morning. We'll have more info in our next post.