THE HISTORY OF CALLAWAY GARDENS
1920 (April 3): Cason Jewell Callaway of LaGrange, Ga., marries Virginia Hand in her hometown of Pelham, Ga.
1928: Callaways picnic with friends for the first time at Blue Springs in Hamilton, Ga.
1930 (Aug. 12): Cason Callaway discovers an extremely rare flower, the Plumleaf Azalea, growing in the wooded area around Blue Springs. Later that year he purchases 2,500 acres of land in Harris County. The Callaways eventually own 40,000 acres in the area.
1935: Cason resigns as president of Callaway Mills but remains as chairman of the board. He moves his family to Blue Springs.
1936 (Jan. 27): Ida Cason Callaway Foundation is chartered in LaGrange, Ga.
1937: Cason resigns as chairman of the board for Callaway Mills.
1944: Cason implements The One Hundred Georgia Better Farms Program, which continues until 1950.
1948 (Summer): Cason suffers first heart attack.
1949 (Spring): Flood leaves Blue Springs Farm under several feet of mud, contributing to its demise. Cason and Virginia turn their attention to creating Callaway Gardens.
1949 (Fall): Construction begins on Mountain Creek Lake and boathouse, Lake View golf course and clubhouse (which now serves as the Gardens Restaurant), Overlook Pavilion, the Gardens Office (which now serves as the Human Resources office) and the boathouse on Whippoorwill Lake. All were completed in 1951.
1950: The Callaways deed the land, which is now the Gardens, to the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation.
1951: The Horticulture Department is created and the first plant nursery constructed.
1952 (January): Gardens Industries, Inc. is formed to operate the Old Water Mill (manufacturer of grits), Callaway Gardens Country Store® and Gardens Farm.
1952 (May 21): Gardens opens to the public as Ida Cason Gardens.
1952: Callaway Gardens Country Store opens to the public.
1953 (June 10): Howard H. “Bo” Callaway is appointed executive director of Callaway Gardens.
1953 (June 23): Robin Lake Beach opens to the public.
1953 (July 1): Fred Galle becomes director of horticulture.
1955: The Gardens name changes to Ida Cason Callaway Gardens.
1956: First 50 rooms of Gardens Motel (now Gardens View section of Mountain Creek Inn) opens and becomes the largest motel on U.S. Hwy. 27 between Hamilton, Ga. and Chattanooga, Tenn. The Pavilion at Robin Lake Beach is constructed.
1956 (June 21): One-millionth visitor passes through the Gardens gates.
1956 (Sept. 8): Cason Callaway featured in story in The Saturday Evening Post titled “His Own Garden of Eden.” The article by Harold H. Martin included a picture of the first nine holes of Lake View Golf Course taken by Bill Shrout.
1958 (January): Gardens Services, Inc. incorporates to operate motel, food concessions, golf operations and Robin Lake Beach.
1958: 1830s Pioneer Log Cabin is moved to the Gardens.
1959: Laurel Springs Trail opens.
1959: Preserve Plant opens.
1959: Construction begins on Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden.
1959: Ski Pavilion is built at Robin Lake for Masters Water Ski Tournament, which begins the same year.
1960: Pioneer Log Cabin opens.
1960: Summer Family Adventure begins.
1961: The Gardens name is changed to Callaway Gardens. FSU Flying High Circus begins.
1961 (April 12): Cason J. Callaway dies.
1961: First A-frame cottages are built, motel receives addition of 120 rooms and Lake View Golf Course adds second nine holes.
1962 (April 12): Dr. Norman Vincent Peale dedicates Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel, named in memory of Cason’s mother.
1962: Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden opens.
1964: Gardens Industries, Inc. and Gardens Services, Inc. are combined. Fifty more cottages are built and motel adds 73 rooms. Country Store is expanded.
1965: Mountain View Golf Course opens.
1965 (April 22): Five millionth visitor enters the Gardens gates.
1967 (Spring): Cottage complex adds 26 more units. Motel adds 120 rooms, the convention center and another pool.
1968 (May 5): Education Department is established.
1968: Nine-hole Sky View Golf Course opens.
1968: Callaway Gardens Country Store undergoes expansion.
1968: Kiddie Land Recreation facility is built at Robin Lake.
1968 (Spring): New greenhouse, outdoor display area and parking area constructed.
1968: Gardens View Golf Course opens and golf clubhouse is expanded.
1971: Callaway’s School of Needle Arts is established.
1971: Greenhouse complex receives new conservatory.
1972: Virginia Callaway establishes Cason J. Callaway Memorial Forest, which the U.S. Dept. of the Interior designates as a Natural Landmark.
1972: Meadowlark Garden opens with the cupola from the Hand family home as a feature. This area is where the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center stands today with the copula atop the facility.
1981: Construction of Mountain Creek Villas begins.
1984: Original A-frame cottages are sold and new cottages constructed.
1984 (March): John A. Sibley Horticultural Center is dedicated.
1984: WGBH’s The Victory Garden program begins filming a Southern segment from Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden to better serve the interests of their Southern viewers.
1985: Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens begins.
1986: Southern Gardening Symposium begins.
1988 (Sept. 25): Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center dedicated.
1988: Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel and surroundings undergo renovation.
1989: 7.5-mile Discovery Bicycle Trail opens. It is expanded to 10 miles in 2000.
1989: Permanent Beach Dome erected at Robin Lake Beach.
1990 (Nov. 4): Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel rededicated.
1990: Home Demonstration Garden within Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden honored by then First Lady Barbara Bush and the American Nurseryman Association with a National Landscape Award.
1990: Gardens Services Inc. is changed to Callaway Gardens Resort Inc.
1990: Tom Jackson, famous for creating Callaway’s delicious honey bourbon ribs, retires.
1991 (Fall): Mountain View Golf Course becomes host of PGA Tour’s Buick Southern Open (held in Columbus since 1968).
1992: Fantasy In Lights® begins.
1995 (Feb. 11): Virginia Hand Callaway dies.
1999 (Feb. 21): Groundbreaking for Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center.
1999 (March 27): Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl dedicated and Discovery Bicycle Trail expansion to 10 miles officially opens.
1999 (Labor Day Weekend): Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival begins.
2000 (Feb. 21): Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, Mountain Creek Café, Discovery Gift Shop and Birds of Prey program at Discovery Amphitheater open on what would have been Mrs. Callaway’s 100th birthday.
2000: Wildflower Trail is renamed Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail and Callaway becomes affiliate of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
2000 (Nov.): Enchanted Rainbow Forest added to Fantasy In Lights.
2000: Lake View Pro Shop closes and all golf operations are consolidated into the Mountain View Pro Shop.
2000: Eight new units added to Mountain Creek Villa complex.
2001: Lake View and Mountain View golf courses undergo renovation.
2001: Entities of Ida Cason Callaway Foundation change from Callaway Gardens to The Gardens at Callaway, The Preserve at Callaway and the Resort at Callaway.
2002: Southern Pine Conference Center opens in September, featuring 22,000 square feet of meeting space, 150-seat restaurant (the Piedmont Dining Room) and new check-in desk for The Southern Pine Cottages.
2006 (November 16): The 150-room Lodge at Callaway Gardens opens.
2007 (March 31): Spa Prunifolia opens.
2007: Three-year Wind Power Credit Offset purchased, making all of Callaway Gardens’ electricity offset through wind power.
2011: Southern Pine Conference Center (front desk, parking lot, lobby, meeting space, Ironwood Lounge and Piedmont Dining Room) sold to Noble Investment Group, making the Lodge and Spa one complete unit, which in turn becomes managed as part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection
2011 (May 14): TreeTop Adventure opens.
2011 (May): Aqua Island, Light Striker Laser Tag and Blaster Boats opens. Refreshment of Mountain Creek Inn rooms completed.
2012 (June): Callaway Gardens sells 4,500 acres of land.
2013 (March): TreeTop Adventure expands, offering the Discovery Course (Phase 1) and the Lake Course (Phase 2), which includes zip lines over water.