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What is the history of Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens?

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Quick Answer

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens is situated on what was once Powhatan Indian hunting grounds. John Pleasants purchased the lands in 1716, and at one time, U.S. founding father Patrick Henry owned the land. Lewis Ginter purchased 9 acres of the land in 1884. Four years later, he founded the Lakeside Wheel Club with the intentions of making his club a hub for cycling enthusiasts and socially-minded women. The public gardens opened in 1984 on 80 acres of land.

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Full Answer

In 1884 Ginter purchased 10 acres of land with the intent to develop the Lakeside Wheel Club, which would eventually grow into the Ginter Botanical Gardens. The central structure of the Lakeside Wheel Club was Bloemendaal House, which remained through several incarnations. Ginter died in 1897, leaving his land and the club to his niece who, upon her death, gave the land to the City of Richmond.

The gardens in their modern incarnation were founded in 1984 when Robert S. Hebb, a horticulturalist and author took directorship of the land. A volunteer organization, The Bloemendaal Society, formed to maintain the lands. As of 2015, the gardens sits on 80 acres of land and is a forum for the study and display of plants.

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