Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Treasure in the Vines....Waverly Plantation

Imagine a dream.  A dream in which you are wandering through the woods and discover a beautiful, long forgotten home.  A home which rises above jasmine vines wrapped tightly around graceful columns.  A home which has endured the ravages of rain, the heat of hot Mississippi summers, the infestation of bees and bats, and yet still retains the grace of a bygone era.  Such a dream came true for the Snow family.

Robert and Donna Snow owned an antique store in Phildelphia, MS.  One day a salesman stopped by and told them that he had gotten lost down by the river and found a beautiful home, hidden in the woods near West Point, MS.  According to Melanie Snow, one of the Snow's children, her parents stayed up all night thinking about the home.  The next morning they told their children that they were going on an adventure, packed the kids in the car,  and off they went.  Imagine their delight when they discovered this beautiful home . . . Waverly.  Mr Snow is quoted as saying, “As we came around a huge oak tree, we stopped dead in our tracks—absolutely breathless, mesmerized. There was the house, rising up out of the jungle, four stories high with the dome set against the bluest sky. Vines clung to the house and swayed in the breeze. The porch floor had collapsed and the marble steps were scattered in the yard. We scarcely spoke.”  They fell in love with what they saw and were soon the owners of Waverly Plantation.  It was their love that restored this graceful home to its former splendor. 

Waverly was originally built in 1850 by Colonel George Hampton Young on land acquired after the Chickasaw cession. The Young's raised 10 children in this home and it was eventually passed down to two bachelor sons who lived there until the early 1900's.  One was a dead ringer for Kevin Costner!  Leaving no heirs, the property and home was given to relatives.  The remaining family could not afford the upkeep on the home and basically left it alone for 50 years.  This picture was taken in 1936, nearly 30 years before the Snow's first saw Waverly. 
 Photo by James Butters for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS), courtesy of the
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This picture was taken by the Snows after an immense amount of vegetation was removed from the exterior of the home. This was only the beginning of the restoration of this grand lady.
My husband and I visited Waverly last spring.  We were immediately charmed by the home.  Our youngest son took a "Junemester" class at Mississippi State University and during a visit, we took our son and his roommate to see Waverly. We were thrilled to have Melanie Snow, one of the Snow children, give us a delightful tour.  We neglected to get a picture of Melanie so I am borrowing this one from an "All Things Cruise" article. Melanie Snow told us of firsthand experiences of living and restoring Waverly.  Some quite humorous!
(All Things Cruise)
Photographs are not allowed in the home, so most of the ones you see here are from Waverly postcards and others posted on the internet.  When you first enter the home, your eyes are drawn upward to the beautiful four story central hall.  When the Snow's took residence, the home was also the residence of bees, bats, opossums, dirt daubers, and all kinds of critters!  Today the bats are long gone and what is left is this beautiful site. The free standing stairs wind gracefully up the four floors.  To this day, the home does not have air conditioning.  Yep, you heard me correctly!  It is a masterpiece of 19th century engineering. When the windows are open, a wonderful breeze flows through the center of the home.  The bedrooms are located on the 2nd floor with storage rooms on the 3rd floor.
(Postcard from Waverly)
The first floor contains the center hall and four beautiful rooms.  Let's start with the dining room.  Ms. Snow told us her mother's favorite room in the house was the dining room.  She said that her mother loved the crystal cake plate you see on the table.  The crystals, which hung from the plate, would make a wonderful twinkling sound announcing the arrival of the cake! The crystal chandelier was purchased from France. 
(New Southern View:  Bill Pitts)
(New Southern View: Bill Pitts)
The parlor is another lovely room on the first floor.  Reportedly, the parlor was designed to show off the Young's wealth.  There is an enormous amount of a continuous handcarved molding surrounding the top of the room.  Ms. Snow described how she and her sister would be given the chore of cleaning the dirt dauber homes from the molding with tooth brushes and toothpicks.  Her mother would try to make it an exciting adventure, but they were not too happy about it.  Melanie recently came across a picture of she and her sister with toothbrushes in their hands and frowns on their faces standing in front of the room's marble fireplace! 
(New Southern View: Bill Pitts)
To the left of the picture above is a "wedding alcove" which was built in the parlor by the Young's.  With so many daughters, the Young's planned ahead and incorporated a perfect spot for weddings at Waverly.  It was used not only for weddings, but baptisms and funerals as well.  A 1974 HABS photo (below) shows the wedding alcove.  Notice the elaborate molding above the alcove.  This same intricate molding surrounds the room.  Aren't you glad you were not given the chore of cleaning it with a toothbrush?
(1974 HABS Photo)
Let's continue our tour of the first floor.  Our next stop is  the first floor bedroom which is used as a guest room.  It is amazing that after sitting vacant for 50 years, the home still had the magnificent French gasoliers hanging in the rooms.  In fact, even though local fraternities used it for parties and "dare to spend the night" events, it still retained eight marble fireplaces, three elaborate gold leaf  mirrors, and all but three hand turned bannisters out of more than 700!  “The lack of damage and theft is, I think, a great tribute to the people of Mississippi,” Melanie Snow said.  She told us that there was graffiti on the house, but not one "vulgar" word. That's Mississippi for you!  Mississippians know their manners!
(New Southern View: Bill Pitts)
The last room on the first floor is the library. Ms. Snow told us that the gold cornices as well as the gasolier  in this room were in the house when they found it. Amazing!
(New Southern View: Bill Pitts)
At this point in the tour, Ms. Snow invited us to walk up to the 2nd floor and enjoy viewing the rooms at our leisure. This room is her father's room. I think it is cute that he hides his television behind the screen!
(New Southern View: Bill Pitts)
Melanie Snow referred to her bedroom as the Tulip Room.  It is hard to see in this picture, but there are tulips in the carved woodwork.  Wouldn't you like to wake up here every morning?
(New Southern View: Bill Pitts)
This room has a fantastic Pennsylvania Dutch hope chest her mother found on a trip to Pennsylvania.  It is covered with a beautiful shade of green and is adorned with intricate hand painting.  Ms. Snow described the trouble it took for men to carry it up the curved staircase.  This bedroom is also associated with a little ghost girl.  I think I will save that story for October!
(New Southern View: Bill Pitts)
Another beautiful bedroom is located on the second floor.  I like that the bed is offset from the wall.  Do you think this was done so that visitors could view the intricately carved bed from all angles?
(New Southern View: Bill Pitts)
Mr. Snow, although in his 80's still tends the yard and raises peacocks.  Isn't this one handsome?  There were four baby peacocks with just the beginnings of the crest feathers seen atop their heads.  They were a little shy, so we couldn't get a great picture, but they were so cute. This guy was proud to show off for us!
We left with some wonderful stories from a terrific family who enjoys sharing their home with others. If you ever find yourself near Columbus/West Point, MS, you must stop by for a visit and learn more about this beautiful Mississippi treasure.
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  Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Vintage Christmas in July!

Do you like Christmas in July events?  I must admit that I love early Christmas blog posts and craft link ups!   It gives me the opportunity to do a little pre-Christmas organization and planning.   How about a vintage Christmas card mosaic to get you in the mood for Christmas in July?
  Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse!
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Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Cool Dessert for the Hot Summer Days

On a hot summer day, nothing tastes better at the end of a meal than a refreshing, cold dessert.   This is one of my family's favorite desserts.  It is known by many names, but we call it Five Layer Delight.

The Starting Line-Up:
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Stick of Butter
1/2 Cups Chopped Nuts
8 Ounces of Cream Cheese
1 Cup of Powdered Sugar
Large Cool Whip
1- 3 Ounce Instant Chocolate Pudding
1- 3 Ounce Instant Vanilla Pudding
3 Cups of Milk  (divided)
This dessert is comprised of several layers.  Let's get started on the first layer . . . my favorite layer!  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter and mix together with 1 cup of all purpose flour and 1/2 cups of chopped nuts.  I used pecans today.  Press the mixture into the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Cool completely.
The first layer has been cooling, so let's get busy on the 2nd layer.  Using a mixer, beat together 8 ounces of cream cheese with 1 cup of powdered sugar until creamy.  Fold in 2 cups of Cool Whip.  Layer this on top of the cooled crust. I lied, I think this is my favorite layer.  Well maybe the first two are my favorites!
At this point, I cover the dessert and place it in the refrigerator while I work on the 3rd layer.  Using a mixer, mix one 3-ounce box of instant chocolate pudding with 1 and 1/2 cups of milk.  Pour on top of the 2nd layer and put back into the fridge to set. 
For the 4th layer, use your mixer and mix one 3-ounce box of instant vanilla pudding with 1 and 1/2 cups of milk.  Pour on top of the chocolate layer and carefully spread to cover.  Place back in the fridge to set.
For the 5th layer, cover with Cool Whip and if desired garnish with chopped nuts, shaved chocolate, or both.  I think I will just top it with Cool Whip.
Yummy!  You can decrease the fat content of this dessert by using low fat cream cheese and skim milk.  My mother has also used sugar free puddings as well. 
I hope you enjoy this terrific summertime dessert.  Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse
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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mosaic Monday: For the Love of Milk Glass

I have always wanted to participate in the Mosaic Monday blog party at The Little Red House; however, I must admit that I do not always take the time to learn various techniques.  So here is my first attempt!  I promise I will get better! Thanks to Foto Flexer and Pic Monkey for the help!
Here is another one I did.  Can't decide which one I like better, but I had fun playing!

 Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse
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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

You know I can't resist a vinatge card to wish you a Happy Independence Day!
Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Putting On a Little Red, White, and Blue

Patriotic decorating is a fantastic way to display your American pride from Memorial Day until the 4th of July. I begin decorating early in May.  Of course, no self respecting farmhouse is complete without bunting falling gracefully from the windows.   The cloth bunting tends to be a little pricey, so I shop the "after" sales.  I probably picked each cloth bunting up for no more than $5.00 each.  Patriotic and thrifty!  Using the large, suction cups keeps the bunting up even in the strongest of winds. 

One of my favorite decorations is this picture my youngest son took.  The American flag in the picture was flown over our nation's capital at the request of Congressman Gene Taylor.  The Bible is opened to Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  Laying on the Bible is his Eagle Scout badge.  He framed each picture and gave them as gifts to the people who supported him along his path to the rank of Eagle Scout.  Special memories.
My dad is recovering from a recent surgery, so we want to keep him cool and comfortable.  We will be eating inside this year instead of under the oaks.  I think this table setting will chargers, white Pfaltzgraff plates, blue plaid napkins, and of course a few stars for sparkle!

 This little display is on a table in the kitchen.  I love the little chicken and milk bottle.
 This is a little black bench which I picked up at a small shop in Foley, Alabama.  It's decorated with a patriotic basket to welcome our friends to the front doors of Still Woods.
 These are the same wreaths I used last year, so I am itching to do a little updating, but for now, they will do! 

This table usually sits under the front or back porch.  It likes to meander around and is a wonderful table for placing a well read book and offers a place to hold a glass of sweet iced tea on a hot, summer day.  I just love bandanas!

If you stopped by Still Woods at Christmas, you know that I collect nutcrackers.  Here is one of my patriotic nutcrackers displayed beside a "Liberty" plate.

Our reading room is painted a dark blue.  A perfect backdrop for a little patriotic decorating!  My favorite piece in this room is the vintage looking flag display on the table.

I purchased the flag display at this lovely store in Pigeon Forge, TN.  I took a short trip to the mountains in early June and was saddened to see that Rebecca's Thyme is no longer in business.  Isn't this the type of store that makes you want to stop and venture in?  So long, I will miss you!
Other than cloth bunting, no farmhouse is complete without a comfy swing for whiling away the warm summer evenings.  If this swing could talk, it would tell such wonderful tales.  We have had it for so long.  It still has the gnaw marks left by our precious 110 pound dog, Prancer, who is now in doggy heaven. It has swung fretting babies to sleep, been a perfect spot to spin a tale or two, held many a couple holding hands, and is a terrific spot for reading a book.   Today it is showing a little red, white, and blue with a comfy pillow. Perfect spot for an afternoon nap!

I bought two white window frames at a small antique store in D'Iberville, MS and haven't decided what to do with them.  For now, one of them lends a little character to a table set between two rocking chairs on the front porch.  Why don't you stop by and we can sit and chat a spell!

Happy 4th of July and Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse!
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