Reynolda Gardens were originally part of a 1067-acre country estate and farm created by tobacco magnate R. J. Reynolds and his wife Katharine Smith Reynolds between 1906 and 1923. In 1913 the Lord & Burnham greenhouse was built to serve the family and farm, and to produce flowers commercially. Landscape architect Thomas W. Sears (1880–1966) designed the 4-acre formal garden for Mrs. Reynolds, starting in 1915.
After the death of Mrs. Reynolds (then remarried as Mrs. Johnston) in 1924, most of the property was gradually sold or given away, including a gift of 300 acres to Wake Forest College in the late 1940s for its Winston-Salem campus. In a series of gifts from 1958 to 1962, their daughter Mary Reynolds Babcock established Reynolda Gardens by donating its property to the college.In 1995 the college and the National Park Service performed extensive historic reconstruction to return the garden to its original design.