I’d been wanting to visit the Callaway Estate for a long time, so I made sure they were open when I set out for my latest trip. I finally managed a visit on Tuesday. Hills and Dales is the Fuller Callaway Family Home and Estate. The house was built in 1916 on the site of a small home surrounded by a beautiful garden started by Sarah Coleman Ferrell. Between 1832 and 1903 she developed one of the most widely acclaimed gardens in the country. After she and her husband’s death the gardens began to fall into disrepair.
Fuller Callaway Sr. was quite the businessman. He owned many successful textile mills in the LaGrange area, and continued to expand into other enterprises. He became quite wealthy, and decided to buy the Ferrell house and garden for his wife. The Italian villa style house was built on the site of the old Ferrell homestead. Ida began to restore the gardens, and they both lived in the house until their deaths.
Beginning in 1936 Fuller Callaway Jr. and his wife Alice took over the house and gardens. They continued to cherish this special property until his death in 1992 and her’s in 1998. They set up a foundation so that the house and gardens would be preserved forever. One of the things that began way back when Sarah Ferrell started the gardens was that they were always open to the public. Today the legacy continues, along with many others. Fuller Jr.’s older brother moved north on his father’s death and set up a farm, and did a lot of experimenting with new varieties of flowers. He eventually set up Callaway Gardens, which flourishes yet today. The Callaway Foundation continues to do many good deeds in Georgia and further afield. Their family history should be an example to all of us, to do what we can to make our world a better place. Sarah Ferrell cared for the gardens for over 60 years, and then Alice Callaway in her turn also cared for the gardens for over 60 years.
I greatly enjoyed my time in the gardens and my tour of the house. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take photos inside the house, which was a real delight. It is just as Alice left it when she died in 1998, which makes it a real treasure. It is a magnificent house, but it also was always a family home.