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.
Sharing Today With:
Amaze Me Monday 
What's It Wednesday

  Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse





16 comments:

  1. What a grand old home! So nice to see things restored, rather than demolished. Those staircases and that piano. So lovely.

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    1. It is nice to see homes preserved. We just came back from a 4,000+ mile road trip and I saw so many lovely, old homes left to fall apart. So sad. I wish I could restore them all! Thanks for dropping by and have a great Tuesday!
      Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

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  2. Such a beautiful home, thanks so much for the tour!
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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    1. Hi Cindy! It is a beautiful home. She told us so many interesting tales, but I didn't want to make the post any longer than it was. Thank you for stopping by and come back anytime!
      Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

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  3. Oh what a wonderful house. Thankyou for the tour...I loved each picture.
    Balisha

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    1. Hi Balisha! I am glad you like the tour. It is a lovely place and the owners are so sweet. Have a terrific Thursday!
      Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

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  4. Oh my! What a beautiful place! I loved seeing all of the pretty olden furnishing too.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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    1. Isn't that furniture terrific? There are only a few of those pianos in the United States. Mr and Mrs Snow had an eye for what would fit best in the home and worked together to bring the house back. It is a true love story!
      Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

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  5. This house is beautiful and the interior as well.

    -Brittany Ruth

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    1. Hi Brittany,
      Sorry for responding so late. I have been having a few blog issues! It is a beautiful home. Can you imagine finding something like Waverly in the woods? Thanks for stopping by!
      Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

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  6. Thank you for a tour of the Waverly Mansion!! It is absolutely beautiful and thrilled that it didn't completely fall into ruins!! Love the colors the Snows used in the various bedrooms! Just beautiful!!

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    1. Sorry for responding so late. I have been having a few blog issues! I am glad you liked the tour of Waverly. I think if it would have been left alone much longer, it may have gone to ruins. I just love old houses. They have such character. Thanks for stopping by!
      Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

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  7. Oh wow, I'M IN LOVE! What a beautiful home and all of that Victorian furniture?!! I loved it all! Thanks for taking us along on the tour, and for showing us the peacock. I love peacocks!
    Thanks for visiting my blog and following me. I'm following you back. :-)
    Have a great week,
    Gina

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    1. Hi Gina,
      Sorry for responding so late. I have been having a few blog issues! It is a beautiful home. I think Waverly selected it's new owners (antique dealers. They knew what would bring the house back to life. Thank you for following me back and stopping by!
      Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful home and story. I am so grateful there are still people out there willing to save these wonderful old homes.
    Sandy

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    1. Isn't it a charming home? I especially enjoyed the tour by the owners daughter. She had so many stories to tell. My dream has always been to restore an older home. I am afraid my husband would leave me! I too am thankful that there are people out there willing to devote their time, resources, and most of all love in restoring a home to its original splendor.
      Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

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