Thursday, April 16, 2020

Taj Mahal, Georgia Style

Though it was back in 1900 that Luther Fischer married the daughter of Alabama-born Dr. C. D. Hurt, perhaps because it was early in his own medical career that the Fischers postponed splurging on any lavish residential arrangements.

By 1925, after the new, 150-bed Davis-Fischer Sanatorium was opened, Lucy and Luther must have decided it was time to look for a suitable home of their own. They settled upon property which had recently been put up for sale twelve miles to the northeast of Atlanta, known as the Wallace estate.

William R. Wallace had farmed that thousand acre parcel since the 1880s, but following his death, the eldest of his seven children finally decided to put the property up for sale in 1925. The site was north of the little city of Chamblee, up against a meandering waterway known as Nancy Creek. The peaceful hilly refuge was just what the Fischers sought for an appropriate building site for their new home.

The resulting mansion was suitably ensconced amid beautiful gardens, particularly featuring a rose garden which in the years to come became famous throughout the region. Just the rose gardens alone included ten thousand bush roses, as well as climbing roses along the two miles of drives within the estate property. The Fischers called their paradise "Flowerland," and as a generous token to their neighbors, opened their gardens to the public for viewing during weekends.

One website still preserves the memory of that beautiful garden layout with pictures and narrative concerning the property's history, noting that Dr. Fischer was "devoted to his wife" and that he had built the mansion and planted the magnificent garden layout "entirely out of his love for her."

Unlike other famous monuments dedicated to beloved and adored spouses like India's Taj Mahal, this property was a living testament of one couple's love story. Upon Lucy Hurt Fischer's death in 1937, though, her husband apparently could no longer bear to remain at the home which constantly provided reminders of his loss.

A little over a year later, in an announcement celebrated at the January meeting of the Georgia Rose Society of which he was a board member, Luther Fischer made public his decision to not only deed his Crawford Long Hospital to Emory University, but to donate his beautiful home, which he and Lucy had called Flowerland, to the State of Georgia, along with a maintenance endowment for the property. The gift was to be not only in remembrance of Luther's beloved wife, Lucy, but also to serve as a memorial to both her mother and his, Sarah Rainey Fischer.

Of Dr. Fischer's generosity, Atlanta's weekend publication, the Sunday American, was said to have noted,
To those in sickness he gives the magic power of his hands and a hospital. To those in health he gives "Flowerland" in all its beauty.

Though such accolades may have seemed more suitable to a eulogy, Luther Fischer outlived his beloved first wife by fifteen years. Already remarried by the time his generous gifts were announced in 1939, the doctor succumbed during the spring of 1953.

As much as Atlanta may have appreciated the floral beauty bestowed upon them by this man in 1939, his legend likely would not have continued to live on, but for the few mentions found scattered "in the ether" of the Internet. I know I would never have known this story about my own great-grandmother's cousin, if it weren't for a simple comment inserted on Dr. L. C. Fischer's Find A Grave memorial, telling of fond memories of the place Luther and Lucy once called Flowerland. It is simple remembrances like this which enable us to grasp wisps of our past which lead us to more completely comprehend our family's history.

Now, if I ever get to Georgia to research the roots I am so removed from, I'll be able to drive down that winding road by Nancy Creek and know that was a place someone in my family not only once called home, but set aside specifically to remember those who held that place in their lives most beloved.


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