A dialogue-based guided tour of Belmont, a National Historic Landmark built in the 1790s, provides a unique insight into the lives of artists Gari and Corinne Melchers who purchased the property in 1916 after many years living abroad. The sensory-rich tour allows us to follow in the couple’s footsteps while exploring spaces that are little changed and furnished with their eclectic collection of artwork, furniture, carpets, decorative arts, and china. The artistic couple found inspiration here; and we hope our visitors do too!
On my return to Fredericksburg, I walked through the house and opening the back door, looked down the hill across the fields and the river. The beauty of Virginia made me wonder how I could have ever left it even for a winter. Gari Melchers, 1928
Despite the cultural, social, and commercial opportunities New York offered, the city was not acceptable to Gari Melchers as a year-round place of residence. He needed a home and a studio in an undeveloped area to be close to the rural subject matter that he had always favored. Melchers was, no doubt, already looking for a country estate in 1916 when a Detroit architect, Frank Baldwin, who owned the Snowden estate in Fredericksburg, suggested that he consider Belmont. The artist must have been impressed by the picturesque site of this eighteenth-century Georgian home perched on a ridge overlooking the falls of the Rappahannock River in Falmouth, Virginia. Good rail service to New York satisfied an important practical consideration. Consequently, he purchased Belmont, acquiring the deed to the house and property in September 1916. Melchers was not the first owner to enlarge the house at Belmont, but his alteration was unique, for it expressed in architectural terms his long-standing fascination with light. The artist added the five-sided sun porch that now graces the southern side of the house. This luminous alcove boasts four expansive arched windows and a set of arched french doors that open into a broad lawn. LEARN MORE