Gillette Gardens at Meadowbrook
Then & Now
Beginning in the late 1890's, Kate Lee Miller Jeffress commissioned architect and renowned landscape artist, James L. Burley, to create the first Meadowbrook gardens of over 20 acres. The spectacular gardens contained a myriad of beautiful plants that include boxwoods, pines, azaleas, camellias, umbrella trees, mimosas, climbing roses, lilacs, peonies, and many others, with some remaining in the garden today.
Mrs. Elizabeth Jeffress continued to add unique plants from frequent trips to Europe and abroad. In the 1930's, Charles Gillette was commissioned to enhance the estate gardens, which regularly appeared on the legendary tours of Virginia Garden Week. The original mansion burned, and over the years the Gillette Gardens faded a bit, but the Women of Meadowbrook Country Club took on the challenge to restore the Gillette Gardens.
In 2000 William Spell, noted landscape architect and Gillette restoration specialist, created a plan to refurbish the Gardens with the picturesque setting you see today. It serves as a romantic backdrop for scores of weddings and photographers in the Richmond, Virginia area.
A famous gazebo, nicknamed the Lace House resided in the Gardens for over half a century, but was eventually moved to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. On June 28, 2017, The Gillette Gardens at Meadowbrook, Inc. unveiled and dedicated an exact replica of the Lace House for our Gardens. Several years of research and meticulous details yielded this beautiful sculpture which may now be enjoyed by our visitors.
The original gazebo was hand carved in relief detail in 1800 by Samuel Myers, a Richmond silversmith residing on Governor Street. Judge and Mrs. Crump next owned the Governor Street property and sold the gazebo in 1890 to Mrs. Kate Jeffress for the sum of $10, and it was moved to Meadowbrook. A local artist friend of hers, Douglad Walker, nicknamed it "The Lace House". After leaving Meadowbrook, its next home was in 1969 at the Elmira Shelton House, headquarters of the Historic Richmond Foundation and later to its current home at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.