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Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to buy 6.2 acres from Lakeside Baptist Church

Henrico will support purchase with $750,000 contribution over 3 years

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will acquire 6.2 acres along the western edge of its Lakeside Avenue location through a purchase agreement with Lakeside Baptist Church that is being supported by Henrico County.

The nonprofit community-oriented garden has agreed to buy the church’s property at 7401 Woodman Road for $1.9 million. The parcel borders the garden on its northern and eastern sides and includes a 1963 sanctuary and classroom buildings totaling 23,700 square feet. Henrico is supporting the sale by contributing $750,000 over three years, leaving the garden to raise the remaining $1.15 million from donors.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, at 1800 Lakeside Ave., currently encompasses 82 acres. The land from Lakeside Baptist Church will represent the largest expansion of the grounds since the garden’s opening in 1987.

In announcing the acquisition today outside the garden’s Conservatory, Lewis Ginter President and CEO Brian Trader said church leaders reached out in October 2021 to gauge interest in a potential sale. Under the agreement, ownership will transfer in July 2025.

“We’re honored Lakeside Baptist Church approached us with this opportunity and extremely grateful to Henrico County for making it possible,” Trader said. “The church and the garden have been wonderful neighbors over the past four decades, and this ensures the church’s legacy will continue. It also provides additional future opportunities as the garden seeks to serve the community in exciting and innovative ways.”

Henrico Supervisors Daniel J. Schmitt, of the Brookland District, and Frank J. Thornton, of the Fairfield District, lauded the agreement and welcomed the garden’s opportunity to grow.

“This agreement to add 6.2 acres to the garden in Lakeside is great news for all parties – Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Lakeside Baptist Church and Henrico County,” said Schmitt, who also serves on the garden’s Board of Directors. “Henrico and its Board of Supervisors are pleased to support this effort as it will allow the garden to continue to serve our residents and community for generations to come.”

Thornton added, “Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is an absolute treasure for Henrico County as well as our region and state. It promotes visitation and tourism, with more than 390,000 visitors, including students, last year. The garden also helps us to appreciate the beauty of our natural world and brings joy and peace to our lives. With this additional land, Lewis Ginter will be poised to grow and bloom for years to come.”

The Rev. Becky Gunter, pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church, called the announcement of the property transfer a historic moment for the church, the garden and the community. She thanked Lewis Ginter for being such good neighbors and said the church felt particularly blessed seeing the garden’s dome illuminated during its annual light show.

“We have taken great pride over the years telling people that this beautiful garden of colorful flowers backs up to our property. Unknowingly to Lewis Ginter, they have been a ‘directional’ beacon to the location of our church,” she said. “We come with mixed emotions but are excited to know that the property is going to continue to be used to bless many people in the years to come. As Mr. Rogers would say, ‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!’”

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