McGill Rose Garden

McGill Rose Garden

The McGill Rose Garden was started in the early 1950's by Helen McGill when she and her husband, Henry, owned the Avant Fuel and Ice Company. Mrs. McGill saw the need for some beautification in such an industrial part of the city. Starting with two rose bushes from home, she began planting roses along the fences and railroad tracks, wherever she could find soil. Eventually, she had planted more than 500 rose bushes in the fuel yard.

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In 1967 the McGill's began operating the garden to the public and soon thousands were coming to view the vivid McGill Rose Garden at Charlotte, NCspectacle. The usual gathering now for Mother's Day is over 1,500 people.   

In 1973, Mayor John Belk declared a special day in appreciation for the McGill's, recognizing their "painstaking care" and "unselfish efforts" to bring beauty to a once-blighted area of the city. Mrs. McGill died in 1985. On Mother's of 1986 Mr. McGill and the City of Charlotte, represented by Mayor Harvey Gantt, dedicated a lovely fountain in the garden to her memory.

Eventually, the uses of coal and ice dissipated as times changed, but Mr. McGill retained his Exxon distributorship until the city bought the Property from him. Visitors are enchanted with the Seaboard Coastline coal car still on its tracks in the garden, as well as with the antique scales that weighed the bags and coal trucks.

Even though he no longer owned the property, Mr. McGill continued physically and financially to maintain the garden until it became a 501 C-3 non-profit in 1996. Today, McGill Rose Garden, Inc. is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors as an urban sanctuary full of nearly 1,000 roses. Mr. McGill and his second wife, Joy, are both on the Board and continue to be active at the garden.

McGill Rose Garden was designated as one of a handful of AARS (All-American Rose Selections) Rose Gardens in North Carolina.In 1998, McGill Rose Garden was designated as one of a handful of AARS (All-American Rose Selections) Rose Gardens in North Carolina. In addition to the delightful roses, the garden is involved in various aspects of education, including a garden area for young people, horticultural therapy for people with traumatic brain injury, and adult garden and rose-related workshops.

From late April through October, many individuals and convention groups visit the garden. People from most every state of the union as well as many foreign countries have signed the guest book. The garden is regularly used for meetings, classes, photography sessions, receptions, and weddings. It as been written up in Southern Living and a variety of other national and regional publications for years, standing out for its beauty and unique story. The garden is supported through extensive volunteer assistance and financial contributions in the form of memberships, grants, and donations.

Way to go:

The McGill Rose Garden is located at 940 N. Davidson St., Charlotte, NC 28206. Hours are Tuesday-Friday from 9am-3pm. For more information, call 704-333-6497.

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