The Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Alabama is the preserved historical home in which the Fitzgerald’s last lived as a family. The museum’s mission is to preserve and protect the home and its artifacts, as well as to educate the public on the lives, work and influence of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It is the only museum in the world dedicated to the life and legacy of the Fitzgeralds.
The home, built in 1909, was completed in 1910. The Fitzgeralds lived in the two-story Georgian home with their daughter Scottie from 1931-1932. The collection of the museum is divided into four main areas, which span 6 different time periods. The museum’s timeline begins in 1913 when Scott Fitzgerald left home to attend Princeton University, and ends with the year 1985 when the couple’s daughter, Scottie, passed away at the age of 64 in Montgomery. The museum is located on the first floor of the house. Tours begin with a 30-minute video that educates guests on the Fitzgeralds, their lives and their time in Alabama. The video includes interviews with friends who knew them while they lived in Montgomery. The collection at the two-room museum includes books and letters, photographs, and personal artifacts belonging to Zelda and Scott. Several of Zelda’s paintings are on display, an art she took up while the couple lived in France. Fitzgerald-related memorabilia is for sale in a small gift shop area. While living in the Montgomery home, Scott Fitzgerald wrote his book “Tender is the Night” while Zelda completed the outline for “Save me the Waltz.” They moved from the home in 1932 when Zelda was hospitalized for her second major psychological breakdown after the death of her father, she would be in and out of hospitals for the remainder of her life in Montgomery.
History: Zelda Sayre was born in Alabama in 1860, the Southern Belle daughter of Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Dickinson Sayre. She first met Scott Fitzgerald in Montgomery in 1918. Fitzgerald was a Princeton University dropout reporting to duty at an army base in Montgomery as a 2nd Lieutenant. For Fitzgerald, it was love at first sight. Fitzgerald described the first meeting between the two in “The Great Gatsby” when Jay Gatsby first meets Daisy Buchanan at the train station. Although the real-life meeting took place at a Montgomery Country Club dance, the story remained the same. Fitzgerald allegedly rewrote the character of Rosalind Connage in his first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” to more closely resemble Zelda. Much more than a muse, Zelda contributed to Fitzgerald’s writing, and portions of the novel were taken verbatim from Zelda’s journal, which she had shared with Fitzgerald. Zelda was presumed destined to marry a much wealthier man, however in 1920, Fitzgerald sent Zelda a ring from New York City, where he was living at the time. The two were enganged, and Zelda agreed to marry when his first novel was published. “This Side of Paradise” was an immediate success. The couple was known for their heavy drinking and wild parties. The pair, affectionately referred to as the “darlings of the jazz age,” were icons of their time. Zelda is frequently referred to as “America’s first flapper.” The couple lived in Paris from 1924 to 1930 while Fitzgerald wrote “The Great Gatsby” and Zelda allegedly suffered through an attempted suicide after an affair. The couples lives were rift with alcohol abuse, drama and extra marital affairs, which likely enhanced their celebrity status. In 1930, Zelda was hospitalized in France and diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Shortly thereafter, the couple returned to Montgomery, where their arrival was widely publicized in the local press. After they left the Montgomery home in 1932, it was split into separate apartments and used as a boarding house. Having fallen into disrepair after several years of neglect, the home was saved from demolition in 1986 when local residents Julian and Leslie McPhillips purchased the property with the intent of opening the museum.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The museum is host to an annual “Excellence in Writing” award. The 2017 award went to Katherine Clark, the author of two oral biographies based in Alabama. The museum hosts a short story and poetry writing contest each year with cash prizes going to winners in the categories of high school students, college students, and instructors. Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Day was celebrated on July 24th. The event included an opening of the museum’s recent acquisitions, Zelda’s artwork, and photographs. A local boutique was on hand with items inspired by “America’s first flapper.”
919 Felder Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36106, Phone: 334-264-4222
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