Margaret and Hugo Dixon
The history of Dixon Gallery and Gardens begins with two exceptional people, Margaret Oates Dixon (1900-1974) and Hugo Norton Dixon (1892-1974). Philanthropists and community leaders, the Dixons ensured a richer and more varied cultural life for Memphians by bequeathing their home, gardens and collection of French Impressionist paintings for the enjoyment and education of future generations. The Dixons also established the Hugo Dixon Foundation, a separate entity that assists in funding the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in perpetuity.
The Dixon residence was designed by the prominent Houston architect John Staub who is best known for the development of the River Oaks suburb in Houston and home of Bayou Bend, which now houses the decorative arts collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The Dixon residence was designed in the Neo-Georgian manner and completed in 1942. The house opened to the public in 1976, and today is devoted to displaying the Dixon permanent collection.
History of the Gardens
The 17-acre wooded site was acquired by the Dixons in 1939 and construction of their home followed. Plans for the house and gardens began simultaneously as the house was sited for future garden vistas. At the time, Margaret and Hugo Dixon enlisted the aid of his sister, Hope Crutchfield, who was a landscape designer. Their goal was to create an American-style garden reminiscent of English landscape parks and French and Italian garden styles. In 1976, the cutting gardens were established to provide flowers for the arrangements in the residence and the galleries. Mrs. Dixon always had fresh flowers in her home and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens' long partenership with The Memphis Garden Club has continued this tradition.
In 1998, a horticultural complex opened at the Dixon that includes a library, meeting space, potting hub, greenhouses, and a glass conservatory.
The Dixon was certified as a level 4 Arboretum in 2011, having 60 identified and labeled trees.
Although a public institution, the Dixon receives no city, state or federal funding; it is supported by the Hugo Dixon Foundation, Dixon Gallery and Gardens Endowment Fund and by individual and corporate donors.