History of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
More about the property
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is on property that was Powhatan Indian hunting ground and was once owned by Patrick Henry. Lewis Ginter, a prosperous Richmond businessman, purchased nine acres in 1895.
Explore a brief timeline of the Garden in the gallery below.
Lewis Ginter bought nine acres on Lakeside Lake and allowed his colleagues in the Commonwealth and Westmoreland Clubs to build the Lakeside Wheel Club, a one-story structure that was later modified and incorporated into Bloemendaal House. The Wheel Club was a destination for Richmond bicyclists.
On October 2, Lewis Ginter died at the age of 73. His death took place at his country home called Westbrook, on land now belonging to the Westminster-Canterbury retirement community. His death was greatly mourned throughout the city, as he was known for his kindness and philanthropy. Lewis Ginter is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
Grace Arents, Ginter’s niece, bought the abandoned Lakeside Wheel Club. She remodeled the structure, adding a second story, and made it a convalescent home for sick children from the city.
Later with the founding of the Instructional Visiting Nurses Association, the convalescent home was no longer needed and Arents moved into the house with her companion, Mary Garland Smith. She called it Bloemendaal in tribute to the Ginter family’s Dutch ancestors and developed gardens on the property. Bloemendaal means “valley of flowers.”
A group of botanists, horticulturists and interested citizens banded together to form the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Inc. to uphold the will of Arents. A lawsuit ensued. An amicable settlement allowed the formation of the Garden. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was chartered by court decree.