Have you visited the only museum in the world dedicated to F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda? The Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Alabama preserves the legacy of the darlings of the Jazz Age.
Montgomery, Alabama sure seems like an unlikely place to find a Fitzgerald Museum. I totally thought so, too, and I was surprised and elated to find it on my visit to Montgomery. But it does make sense when you learn that Zelda was from Montgomery.
This hidden literary gem is not only the only museum dedicated to the couple, but it’s also the last home of the Fitzgeralds lived in together. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum.
The Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
Their home in Montgomery is the last place the Fitzgeralds would live as a family.
The Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum is located in Montgomery, Alabama in the historic Old Cloverdale neighborhood. They lived here from 1931 to 1932, only an 8 month stay in its entirety.
In the late ’30s, the home was divided into a boarding house until 1986 when it was saved from demolition by Julian and Leslie McPhillips, who decided to create a permanent home for Scott and Zelda. They donated the home to the Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Association in 1999.
The rooms of the home take you chronologically through the Fitzgeralds’ lives, featuring a comprehensive collection of memorabilia from Scott’s failing report card to Zelda’s family paper dolls.
The home is filled with Scott’s short stories, Zelda’s paintings, and the family’s letters to each other and other famous writers through the years.
It’s a small museum, but it really is a must for literary fans!
Visiting the Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
The Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Wednesday by appointment only.
Admission to the museum costs just $5 per person.
You can now even stay at the museum! The two upstairs apartments (from when the home was converted into a boarding home) are available to rent as separate suites on Airbnb: the Zelda Suite and the Scott Suite.
How did the Fitzgeralds come to live in Montgomery?
The Fitzgerald Museum being in Montgomery, Alabama is an unlikely place for a couple who were known to spend a lot of time in New York and France.
But in 1918, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a Princeton drop-out and a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army stationed at Camp Sheridan near Montgomery. Zelda Sayre was a Montgomery native and the daughter of Alabama’s Supreme Court Justice.
They met at a country club and had a whirlwind romance. But Scott was poor, and Zelda would only marry rich. His first book was in the hands of the publisher, and as long as the book deal seemed to be going well, Zelda was madly in love with him. But anytime the publication hit a bump, she would call off their engagement.
His first novel, This Side of Paradise, was finally published in April 1920, and Scott and Zelda got married a week later. Their daughter Scottie was born in 1921.
Despite the huge success of his first novel, Scott made his living mostly by writing short stories for magazines, and the couple was constantly in financial trouble. The Great Gatsby was a flop, and Scott considered the writing he did for magazines as whoring himself out.
They moved from New York to Paris, living a lifestyle they couldn’t sustain. Zelda had decided to become a ballerina at the age of 27, and she developed an eating disorder and what was then called schizophrenia, but was probably more likely bipolar disorder. She was admitted to a sanatorium in France.
After that, the couple moved back to Montgomery.
The Fitzgeralds lived in their home in Montgomery from the fall of 1931 through the spring of 1932. They had never stayed in one place long; at 8 months, this was their longest residency. This is also the house that Scottie felt most at home in.
The Fitzgeralds After Montgomery
Zelda’s health deteriorated after the death of her father, and she was hospitalized in Baltimore. They sent Scottie to boarding school, and Scott rented a space in Maryland to be near Zelda and to work on Tender is the Night.
Zelda was also hard at work on a novel, Save Me the Waltz, which was largely autobiographical in all the same ways Scott was writing Tender. Scott’s publisher agreed to publish her book, but it was not received well by critics. In the hospital, Zelda found comfort in painting and continued the work even as she was moved in and out of sanatoriums.
Zelda became violent and reclusive, and Scott moved her to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina in 1936. He relocated to Hollywood as a screenwriter while Zelda remained hospitalized on the East Coast. The Fitzgeralds wrote each other daily, but they didn’t see each other again after 1939.
Scott died of a heart attack in 1940, a few months after Zelda was released from the hospital into her mother’s care. From 1943 to 1948, Zelda was in and out of Highland Hospital in Asheville. Zelda tragically died in a hospital fire in 1948, sedated and locked in her room.
Scott and Zelda were buried together in Rockville, Maryland.
More Literary Travels
- Visiting Rowan Oak, the Home of William Faulkner, in Oxford, Mississippi
- Discover the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
- Visiting The Wren’s Nest in Atlanta, Georgia
- How to Get Your Fill of Shakespeare History in Stratford-upon-Avon
Ready to visit Montgomery, Alabama? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in Montgomery using Hotels.com.
- Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
Have you visited the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Alabama? Let me know in the comments!