Historic For Sale: Waverley

Recently, we’ve seen a spate of important landmark buildings up for sale around the state: Mt. Hope, Gillespie-Jackson House, among others. It seems to me that what they have in common is that they were saved or lovingly preserved by an earlier generation of preservationists in the 1960s through the 1980s, and now that generation is passing along the torch in hopes that a new generation will take on the responsibility.

Waverley, 2009

The epitome of this phenomenon is today’s subject, Waverley, north of Columbus. A National Historic Landmark, Waverley is one of my favorite Mississippi houses and hands-down my favorite preservation story. As you no doubt recall, Waverley sat vacant for 50 years until the Snows of Philadelphia, Mississippi, decided that they would save it, almost single-handedly and literally with their own hands and those of their children. A New Southern View article quotes Robert Snow recollection of his first site of Waverley:

“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.”

Waverley, Clay County

That quote pretty much speaks to the soul of every preservationist who has ever fallen in love with a building at first sight and knew they would have to do everything in their power to save it.

After bringing the house back and sharing it with the public for decades, Robert Snow died in March in the house he loved. This weekend The Dispatch announced that the house and property are for sale through the Crye-Leike realty for $2.9 million dollars.

Dick Leike, co-owner and president of Crye-Leike Realtors, one of the largest real estate companies in the United States, owns two historic homes in Columbus — his residence at White Arches and Riverview, which he purchased last year and is in the process of renovating.

So when the Snow family decided to put Waverley Mansion up for sale, Leike seemed to be the obvious choice for the job.

“This is not your typical home,” Leike said Friday. “It’s famous all over the world. There are fan clubs in Germany and Japan. There is a market for these kinds of homes, but it’s different. With Waverley, my first concern was how to price it because it’s known internationally.”

. . .

Alan Snow said the family had started making plans before his father’s passing.

“He was aware that it required greater resources to maintain than we could continue to provide,” Snow said. “Of course, Dad’s attachment was very deep and emotional, and he knew that we had to place Waverley in the hands of someone with the resources and energy to preserve it. Three of the four children are in their 60s and, sadly, none of us are in a position to live in the home. We all strongly believe that it needs to be lived in, and that needs to be someone with the energy to keep it thriving, hopefully for decades to come.”

Read more . . .

I know that very few MissPres readers have the money to buy Waverley, but I also know that there are some out there who know people with that kind of money and the love of Mississippi history and amazing architecture to consider it. Pass this post along to them, won’t you?


For more about Waverley:



Categories: Antebellum, Columbus, Cool Old Places, For Sale

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5 replies

  1. I can’t help but be moved. We grew up with Waverley — the abandoned house — in the 1940s and ’50s when my father had bought the farm a mile away in Clay County where he had been born in 1903. At that time, Waverley was still inhabited by the Young family, and my grandparents knew them — in fact, my oldest uncle was named for one of the Youngs. As children in the ’40s and ’50s, we spent many an afternoon visiting the abandoned mansion and grounds, magnificent. It was a magic and wonderful thing to go back there many years later and admire the Snows’ grand restoration. I hope that Waverley will remain in such pristine condition for many more years to come — in my memory, I can see still all the rooms, the stairs, the cupola, the boxwood circle in front of the house.

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    • You forgot the peacocks that used to roam about the place. Let us hope, too, that the new owners will not ride down the Commercial-Dispatch’s “Slim Smith slippery slope” and hijack the State flag that adorns the entrance. Columbus’ March Pilgrimage is in deep trouble. I don’t think tourists are going to trek to Columbus to tour Catfish Alley.

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      • Thanks! Oh, I remember the peacocks, and a thousand other details… too many for a comment. In its abandoned state, there were trunks of dresses, the plantation’s ledgers, the grand mirror in the parlor, cracked and clouded… I have vivid memories of that although I did so much appreciate the Snows’ transformation later — and dearly hope it will remain in good care.

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  2. I suspect that West Point’s George Bryan and Toxey Haas will not let Waverley slip away.

    http://www.cdispatch.com/opinions/article.asp?aid=52626

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  3. Let’s all hope that such a magnificent house won’t remain on the market for long!

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