This estate was once the home and studio of Gari Melchers, who was a well-known portraitist and American Impressionist painter.
Gari Melchers pursued European training where he acquired a solid academic foundation that served him well as a figure painter and portraitist. Melchers was popular, and in 1882 one of his paintings was accepted by the Salon of Paris which was the most prestigious art exhibition of the time. His best-known works include the murals depicting War and Peace in the rotunda of the Library of Congress in Washington DC. After Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne, who were both artists, left their European home at the beginning of World War l, they purchased a beautiful 2-story home in 1916 that was also known as Belmont. The oldest part of the house was built in the mid-to-late 18th century. Most of the changes to the home were done by the Ficklen family who owned it from 1825 to 1916. However, there were some changes that were made to the formal gardens and outbuildings to serve as an elegant country retreat for the couple. The stone studio building on the grounds and a stone garage both date to when the Melchers' lived there.
A summer house was added by Mrs. Melcher after her husband died in 1932. After Corinne Melchers died in 1955, the property was given to the state and included most of the couple's possessions in the house. Most historic homes of Virginia are furnished with antiques to go with the origins of the house, however, this home is furnished with unusual European antiques and objects that were collected to show international tastes and the lifestyle of the Melchers. It is also an art museum with 1,600 works of art, about 500 of the paintings are Melchers'. Other works of art include his sketches and studies, works by other artists that he collected, and paintings by his wife, Corinne. The estate sits on 27 acres with the historic home, art studios, and galleries. There are gardens and historic buildings on the property and several miles of walking trails. The museum is open weekdays from 10 am - 4 pm, and on weekends from 10 am - 5 pm. The museum shop is open from 10 am - 5 pm. General admission to the museum is $10 and students 18 and under are free with a paying adult (limit 2); additional students are $5 each. The garden trails are free during public hours. Bikes are not allowed on the woodland trails.