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Belmont

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c. 1790, c. 1850, c. 1918. 224 Washington St. Open to the public; marked with a sign

Sited above the Rappahannock River, this large white frame house with many additions passed through several hands before it became the home and studio of the American painter Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne. Born in Detroit and trained in the European academic tradition, he achieved great popularity at the turn of the twentieth century, specializing in painting European peasantry, portraits, and murals (World's Columbian Exposition, Library of Congress). About 1900 he turned toward Impressionism and Symbolism. He maintained a studio in New York and used Belmont as his country house. Melchers and his wife made some additions to the house, including the sun porch at the south end, and filled it with a varied collection of antiques and art, which reflects their cosmopolitan tastes. They also landscaped the twenty-one acres, adding the terraces and gazebo. The stone studio (1923–1924, John Donaldson, with Philip Stern), in the French Provincial mode of the period, was designed by Melchers's Detroit architect friend, Donaldson, and overseen by local architect Stern. The stone came from bridges and mills that had been destroyed. Planned as a working studio with north light, it also served for receptions and as a gallery and a space where potential clients could see the painter at work. A large collection of Melchers's paintings are on display. Left by his widow to the state of Virginia, the property is now a historic house museum operated by Mary Washington College.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Belmont", [Falmouth, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-FR75.

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