1950 – The idea to build an Elizabethan Garden (TEG) was first proposed by Sir Evelyn Wrench, founder of the English Speaking Union during a visit to see “The Lost Colony”. The idea was presented to Mrs. Charles Cannon and Mrs. Inglis Fletcher who serves as Sir Evelyn Wrench’s host at the performance. Note: Several people have suggested that Paul Green first suggested the idea – others have said it was Mrs. Charles Cannon.
1950 – The Roanoke Garden Club is formed with Mrs. A. W. Drinkwater serving as the first president. Later a number of its’ members assist with the development of TEG. Those included Mrs. Leo Midgette, Mrs. Guy Lennon, Mrs. M.K. Fearing, Mrs. Mabel Evans Jones, Mrs. A. Q. Bell and numerous other local women.
1951 – The Garden Club of North Carolina formally adopts TEG project and forms TEG Committee to oversee the project. In June the Concord Garden Club makes the first gift to TEG project.
1952 – Mrs. E. W. Reinecke informs The Garden Club of North Carolina about valuable garden statuary located at the Thomasville, GA home of the Honorable John Hay Whitney.
1952 – Mrs. James Tyler and or Mrs. E. W. Reinecke contact Innocenti and Webel who in turn arrange for Mr. Whitney to gift the statuary to The Garden Club of North Carolina.
1952 – The Honorable John Hay Whitney donates a large collection of classical statuary to display in the proposed TEG. including a fountain, pool, balustrade, three birdbaths and benches.
1952 – Albert “Skipper” Bell begins clearing and doing preliminary work on TEG and later helps with the initial plantings.
1953 – The Roanoke Island Historical Society leases 10.5 acres of land to The Garden Club of NC for a term of 99 years to build an Elizabethan Garden.
1953 – The internationally acclaimed landscape architectural firm of Innocenti and Webel is commissioned to design TEG.
1953 – The statuary from the Whitney estate is shipped to Manteo.
1953 – The construction firm of E. W. Reinecke from Fayetteville is selected to construct The Gardens. (This first work was focused on the construction of the Sunken Garden.
1953 – On June 2, the day Queen Elizabeth, II was crowned queen of England construction of The Gardens began.
1953 – Mr. Paul Green, writer of “the Lost Colony” donates the Virginia Dare statue to The Garden Club of NC for display in TEG.
1955 – On August 18th TEG were dedicated and opened to the public.
1957 – The first small gatehouse was built.
1958/59 – Louis Midgette Sr. hired as the Superintendent of TEG.
1959 – North Carolina Camellia Society donates and plants over 200 camellias in The Gardens. The Ruth Coltrane Cannon Nursery is started.
1960 – TEG has a ceremony and formally opens The Gardens on August 18th, Virginia Dare’s 373th Birthday.
1961 – On April 20th a bronze plaque with an inscription by Inglis Fletcher is dedicated in honor of the first four Chairpersons of The Garden. (Mrs. James Taylor, Mrs. Glenn Long, Mrs. Roy Homewood, and Mrs. Corbett Howard) Mrs. Howard donated the Italian stone sundial, the bronze armillary, and two Italian stone benches.
1966 – On July 13th the new Gatehouse is completed and opened as the new entranceway for the Gardens. The gatehouse was partially funded with a $38,500 appropriation from the State of North Carolina. At this time the courtyard fountain was presented in honor of Mrs. Corbett Howard for her years of service.
1971 – The Gardens commemorates its’ 20th anniversary with the governors wife, Mrs. Robert Scott as the honored guest.
1974 – The first greenhouse is constructed to help over-winter tender and exotic plants.
1976 – The Elizabethan Gardens celebrated its’ 25th anniversary and dedicates the new Rose Garden designed by Lewis Clarke. Sir Peter Ramsbotham, British Ambassador presents TEG a Queen Elizabeth Rose from Windsor Castle.
1980 – Avenue of Maples planted in memory of Mrs. Leo Midgette who served on the Gardens’ Committee, worked in TEG, and was one of the Gardens strongest supporters.
1981 – The 16th century style gazebo is constructed adjacent to the Roanoke Sound. The gazebo was designed by Lewis Clarke and constructed by artisans from Plimoth Plantation. Master thatcher, Peter Slavin from Ireland did the thatching.
1984 – Princess Anne visits The Gardens during the 400th anniversary celebration.
1987 – Mr. Louis Midgette retired from TEG after 29 years of service.
1997 – The Meeting Hall is completed and dedicated to Marie Perry Odom, Chairperson 1974-1997. The building provides The Gardens a place to offer educational programs.
2001 – The Elizabethan Garden celebrates its’ 50th anniversary. Mr. Meekins donates funds for the Point of Sale (POS) systems. The Outer Banks Community Foundations donated funds for a new gatehouse roof.
2002 – Astor Perry, an agronomist from Raleigh, developed the First Flight Rose as a special tribute to the 100th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight.
2003 – On March 6, The Louis Midgette Tribute and Camellia Show took place. The Roanoke Island Garden Club presented The Gardens with a $9,500 check to help support The Gardens. A Gala Gardening Festival was held March 26-28 at The Gardens complete with luncheon, tea and lectures.
2004 – The Roanoke Island Garden Club awarded The Gardens a grant to create the animal topiary. The Elizabethan Gardener is first published Fall/Winter 2004. A plaque in honor of Marie Odom, TEG Chairperson for 23 years, was installed outside the Meeting Hall. The Gardens offered special programs in July for families, highlighting interesting plants, objects, animal, and Elizabethan aspects of The Gardens.
2005 – The first Springtime Eggstravaganza, now called the Easter Eggstravaganza, premiers at The Gardens.
2006 – Mr. Irwin Belk donated the Queen Elizabeth statue in honor of his wife, Mrs. Carol G. Belk. John D. Hair was the sculptor. Roanoke Island designer Joan Brumbach designed the Queen’s dress. The Gardens announced a photo contest with emphasis on people, statuary and wildlife. The contest ran from April 1 to October 31.
2007 – Mrs. Mary Alice Chapin donates money in memory of her husband for the construction of the Greenhouses. An oil painting by John Silver was raffled to kick of the President’s Day plant sale.
2010 – Mr. Horace Whitfield, Executive Director of The Elizabethan Gardens, retires. Mr. Carl V. Curnutte, III was named the new Executive Director.
2010 – The first WinterLights and Grand Illumination took place.
2010 – East Carolina University examined the portrait of Queen Elizabeth I to determine its’ origin.
2011 – The Department of Transportation implemented the paved walkways and low wattage lighting project.
2012 – In August, an engraved brick memorial path was added in the Courtyard.
2013 – The Gardens Queen Elizabeth I portrait was featured in a prime-time realty program called “Treasure Detectives,” which premiered March 5 on CNBC. They tested and investigated the portrait, claiming it is authentically Elizabethan and valued it.
2013 – Gallery space opens in Odom Hall with exhibit by resident Botanical Artist Linda Miller of Williamsburg, VA.
2013 – Gardens premiers Peter Rabbit, a half-hour original children’s musical for the summer. The play was performed June to August, 2013 & 2014.
2015 – Virginia Dare Tree featured in a news article in The Virginian-Pilot.
2015 – Eroded Sunken Garden statues of the Greek gods are replaced by statues depicting the four seasons.
2015 – The Rose Garden area is enlarged with enhancements to the area in memory of Richard Martin, Sr.
2017 – Great Gates are restored and officially re-opened.
2018 – Work is begun on a new butterfly center and children’s garden area. Erosion brings closure to areas along the coastline. Watergate is severely damaged. Negotiations for environmentally conscience solutions with all involved partners are ongoing.
2019 – John White Butterfly Center and the Children’s Discover Cottage is officially opened. First annual butterfly festival and butterfly center brings unprecedented spring and summer attendance to The Elizabethan Gardens.
2020 – Plans underway to relocate Elizabethan Gazebo are paused as Gardens closes due to COVID-19 in a world-wide response. Gardens plans to celebrate 10 years of WinterLights in November,December and January.
2021 – Gardens to celebrate 70th year anniversary 1950-2021.