Born in Atlanta, Ga., on Aug. 6, 1869, Walter D. Bellingrath was Mobile's first Coca-Cola bottler and the founder of Bellingrath Gardens and Home. By tradition, Bellingrath Gardens and Home celebrates Mr. Bellingrath’s Birthday on Aug. 6 by offering free admission to residents of Mobile and Baldwin Counties. The Gardens and Home will be open with extended hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Guests are requested to show proof of residence in order to receive free admission on Aug. 6. Guests are also encouraged to purchase tickets to take a guided tour of the Bellingrath Home during their visit.
In the spirit of Bellingrath Gardens’ origins as a fish camp, the Magnolia Café will serve a Fried Fish Lunch on Aug. 6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The lunch special is fried fish, grits, coleslaw, hush puppies and tea, along with a complimentary slice of “Mr. Bell's” birthday cake for dessert. Guests are encouraged to stop by the Bellingrath Gift Shop to take advantage of sales on summer merchandise.
More about Walter D. Bellingrath
Walter D. Bellingrath and his wife, Bessie, created Bellingrath Gardens from a former fishing camp along the Fowl River, which Bellingrath purchased in 1919. The Bellingraths opened the Gardens to the public for the first time on April 7, 1932.
The August 6 “Open Gardens” tradition dates back to 1949, when Mr. Bellingrath invited local residents to come and enjoy the Gardens at no charge as part of his 80th birthday celebration.
Here is the wording of Mr. Bellingrath’s open invitation, which was published in The Mobile Press on Saturday, Aug. 6, 1949. The day was declared “Walter Bellingrath Day” in Mobile.
Mr. Bellingrath died on August 8, 1955, two days after his 86th birthday.
Bellingrath Gardens and Home is operated by the Trustees of the Bellingrath Morse Foundation through the Bellingrath Gardens and Home Foundation, a charitable, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the 65-acre garden and estate home of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. For more information, visit bellingrath.org or call 251-973-2217.