Currently the primary activity of Fuller E. Callaway Foundation is the operation of Hills & Dales Estate, a historic property. This southern treasure features the family home and gardens amidst 35 acres of rolling hills and shady dales.
Hills & Dales, the LaGrange, Georgia home of Mr. and Mrs. Fuller E. Callaway and, later, their son, and his wife, Fuller E. Callaway, Jr. and Alice Hand Callaway, all of whom are now deceased, was designed by the noted architectural firm of Hentz and Reid with J. Neel Reid serving as the primary designer. A champion of classical architecture, formal gardens and interior design, Reid was just beginning to attract national attention at the time of his early death in 1926. As noted by The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the name, Neel Reid, had become a standard brand, like Coca-Cola and Bobby Jones, in the folklore of Atlanta and the surrounding area.
An Italian-style Villa, with Palladian elements, Hills & Dales is situated on a hillside overlooking the historic Ferrell Gardens. Although the home was built from 1914 to 1916, more than seven decades after the Ferrell Gardens were begun, the home and gardens blend beautifully together. They seem to have always been one.
From the massive iron entrance gates, a driveway to the house winds through a grove of trees. Although the house is placed on the highest point in the grove, it is concealed from immediate view by the majestic height of the trees. The first glimpse is of the high-pillared front, facing the east. The north side does not have the close protection of trees, and there is nothing to obstruct the view of the gentle hills and placid dales that give the estate its name.
Ferrell Gardens was begun as a small formal garden in 1832 by Nancy Coleman Ferrell and expanded by her daughter Sarah Coleman Ferrell in 1841. She utilized formal Italian Renaissance and Baroque designs in laying out a series of boxwood patterns and descending terraces.
Late in her life, Mrs. Ferrell encouraged Fuller Callaway, a visionary textile businessman, to purchase her property and care for the gardens as she had done. Fuller and his wife, Ida Cason Callaway, purchased the property in 1912 and built their classic home on the site of Mrs. Ferrell's frame cottage. The Callaways (Fuller and Ida Cason and then Fuller, Jr. and his wife Alice Hand) added many complementary features to the gardens.
Described more than 50 years ago by The Atlanta Journal Magazine as "Five Acres of Heaven," a spiritual atmosphere seems to radiate throughout the gardens, which are noted for their boxwood planted in words and mottos. Ida Callaway added one motto from a window in a church in Cornwall, England. The motto, on the family coat of arms, actually reads "Saint Callaway Ora Pro Novis" (Pray For Us) but Fuller said he needed concentrated prayer so Ida changed it to read "Ora Pro Mi" (Pray For Me.)
For 86 years the Callaways lovingly cared for this house and gardens. Upon Alice Callaway's death in 1998, the property was bequeathed and entrusted to Fuller E. Callaway Foundation with the request that it be used for the enjoyment and instruction of the visiting public.
Group functions were held at the Hills & Dales Estate during the extensive planning for its opening to the general public. Special ceremonies in January, 2004, marked the beginning of construction of the Hills & Dales Estate Visitor Center. The approximate $4.2 million facility, located just below the beautiful Italian villa home of the Callaway family, was designed by Cole & Cole, Montgomery, Alabama and built by Daniel Construction Company of LaGrange, Georgia. The grand opening of the Hills & Dales Estate and its Visitor Center was held in October, 2004.
A brochure describing the Hills & Dales Estate invites a visitor to - "Experience the hospitality and warmth of the Fuller E. Callaway family residence - Enjoy the tranquility of the historic Ferrell Gardens - Walk down garden paths continuously cultivated for over 170 years - Rest and refresh your soul."
Click here for more information on Hills & Dales Estate: www.hillsanddales.org.