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.
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.”
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.”
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:
- Why Waverley is my favorite
- 1940 Inaugural Columbus Pilgrimage Tour of Homes
- Robert Snow, Savior of Waverley, Dies at Home
- Waverley hits market with $2.9 million price tag