He was one of the most successful painters of his time, sought out by the rich and famous. She was a beautiful, young art student, and his biggest fan. They fell in love on an ocean liner and spent their lives sharing art. The story of Gari and Corinne Melchers lives on in their home, Belmont. In 1942, Corinne left the estate and all their art and belongings to the Commonwealth of Virginia to be used as a park and memorial to her husband. The house contains the Melchers’ original furnishings and personal art collection. The studio houses over 1600 works by Melchers. This gem, tucked away in Falmouth near the Rappannock River, is definitely worth a visit.
Website: Gari Melchers Home & Studio
Location: 224 Washington Street, Falmouth, VA 22405 (less than 10 min. from Fredericksburg)
Museum Hours: Weekdays 10 am – 4 pm/Weekends 10 am – 5 pm
Grounds/Museum Shop/Stafford County Visitor Center Hours: Daily 10 am – 5 pm
Cost: Tickets may be purchased in person at the Visitor Center.
- General admission $10 (Students 18 years old and younger are admitted free with an accompanying, paying adult, limit two. Additional students are $5 each.)
- AAA Members $9
- Current UMW staff and students: free
- UMW Alumni: $8, with UMW issued Alumni ID card
The garden and trails are available to enjoy free of charge every day during public hours.
The video orientation gallery is closed so prior to your visit, take time to watch this informative 15-min. video about Gari Melcher’s life. You’ll learn a lot, and it will definitely add to your visit. You can click HERE for a shorter children’s orientation video.
Belmont has a lot to offer. This 18th-century house was the home and studio of the popular American artist Gari Melchers (1860–1932) from 1916 until his death. Your general admission includes a tour of the studio and home. We started out our private tour in the studio and then headed to the home. The entire tour lasted an hour–30 minutes in each location. Tours are given by timed-entry. Our docent was very knowledgeable and shared so many interesting and fun stories. I love that she catered the tour to the kids.
There were so many added touches that made our visit memorable. Number 5 enjoyed posing like a portrait model, playing Corinne Melcher’s piano and writing a postcard on Gari’s desk in the upstairs study. There was even a postcard stamp for her to use. Both kids loved borrowing the sketch bags to take on our walk around the trails and gardens. Each bag contained a sketchbook and a pack of drawing supplies. Number 6 loves to draw so this was right up his alley.
The kids and I enjoyed exploring the beautiful restored gardens and walking on the trails. One trail led to the Rappahannock River and another went right past an ice pond dam, old springs, a pumphouse, and a gravesite of the original owner’s first wife and young daughter.
Any dinosaur lovers out there? We were excited to learn that there’s a cretaceous park at Belmont. The stones used to make the paths and steps at Belmont have been identified as being embedded with dinosaur footprints. How cool is that? At the visitors center, you can pick up a dinosaur footprint map. The prints are easiest seen during the early morning or late afternoon.
Belmont is truly a great find. We will be back. We’re looking forward to the roses and butterflies in May and June and participating in a scavenger hunt or two.
Returning in April:
Preschool Palette: Introduce your preschooler to art galleries. This in-person series includes storytime, a garden stroll and a related art project. Two of these programs are available online–“Not a Box” and “I Am Yoga“.
Woodland Hikes: Free informative walks led by Virginia Master Naturalists. Sundays, 2-3 pm. See the Calendar of Events for more information.