The garden that visitors see today is the result of at least four individuals – Charles F. Gillette, Lucy Henry Morton Hudgins, William H. Hudgins, and Howard Hudgins. The 1927 and ca. 1959 sections of the garden are more formal in design and exhibit the influence of Charles Gillette while the incorporation of mature trees and less formal paths in other areas gives the garden a woodland feel and the entire garden is used to display artifacts, statuary, and architectural elements. Between 1927 and 1976, the property grew from its original 1.24 acres to a total of six acres.
In 1941 and 1942, Lucy and her son, William, acquired additional lots to the north. In 1959, William acquired the last garden lots to the north on Berry Street, and in 1976, he acquired the lot to the east where the museum is located. In 1946, Judge and Mrs. Hudgins sold William the lot where the guest cottage stands. Upon his mother’s death in 1964, William received half interest in the original 1.24 acre lot where MacCallum More stands and in 1965 he acquired his brother, Edward’s half interest, which gave him ownership of the entire property.
The gardens were opened to the public for the first time in 1966 for Historic Garden Week and again in 1973 for the Chase City Centennial celebration. In 1983, Billy began construction on the Museum to house the Indian Artifact collection that he had purchased from Arthur Robertson. The Robertson collection contains over 50,000 pieces that were collected in and around Mecklenburg and Charlotte counties and the island at Kerr Lake. “Billy worked on the building until his death in February of 1986. The executor of the estate continued construction until 1991 when the current board of directors took over. The Museum was completed, the exhibit was installed, and the Museum had its grand opening April 19, 1996.”
For a complete history of the gardens click here.