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Belmont offers a special behind-the-scenes tour
BY BILL FREEHLING
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
About a dozen people got a behind-the-scenes look Sunday at the historic Belmont estate in Falmouth and a vast collection of works painted by former resident Gari Melchers.
David Berreth, director of the Gari Melchers Home and Studio, personally led the afternoon tour.
Most of the people on the tour are members of Friends of Belmont.
It included a look at areas of the well-known artist’s former home and studio that aren’t part of the typical public tour.
Berreth also led the first behind-the-scenes tour of Belmont this past spring. Berreth plans to run them twice a year while demand remains high.
Among the behind-the-scenes areas that Sunday’s group got to see were the kitchen, original bathrooms and attic.
The tour also included a look at staff offices and the vast storage area where rows upon rows of Melchers’ paintings are kept when not on public display.
Berreth also discussed the history of how what was then Mary Washington College came to be the steward of the Belmont property.
He said Melchers’ wife, a fellow artist named Corinne, lived there until her death in the 1950s. After she died, ownership of the property shifted upon her wishes to the state of Virginia.
The facility and grounds are now used for tours, art classes and exhibits, and a variety of special events and meetings.
Berreth said Belmont will be featured on the local Historic Garden Week tour in April.
It will be the first time in 20 years that Belmont has been featured on the Garden Week tour, which celebrates its 80th year in 2013.
To celebrate the anniversary, the local tour, sponsored by the Rappahannock Valley Garden Club, will feature historic estates on the Rappahannock River.
In addition to Belmont, Snowden House, Chatham, Brompton and Fall Hill also will be part of the 2013 tour on April 23.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405