Waverly Mansion for sale

By: 
DONNA SUMMERALL
Staff Writer

For those who have a love for history and, or architecture, Waverly Mansion in Clay County is a treasure. Renovated by Robert Allen Snow Jr. and his wife Donna, after sitting abandoned for 50 years, it was amazing what the Snows were able to do to bring the property back to its original grandeur. But after the passing of patriarch, Robert Snow, the family agreed the upkeep of the antebellum, Greek Revival mansion was just too costly.

"We moved into Waverly when I was 10 years old and my sisters were 7 and 6," Son of Robert Snow, Allen Snow said. "It's home. To us kids, moving in while the work was still going on was an adventure. It was like camping, but inside the house. Our parents put their whole heart into that house. I wish there were come way for us to afford the day-to-day expenses, but it just isn't possible."

Snow said his father understood the weight of the upkeep of Waverly. He knew and agreed the property should be put into the hands of someone who was financially able to continue to keep Waverly beautiful.

"My dad was one of a kind," Snow said. "He was 91 and still pretty active. He worked in the yard and fed the chickens up until last fall. He slowed down a lot then."

Snow said when his parents first purchased Waverley, the thought of tours had never crossed their minds. Neighbors came by to see the progress they were making and more people heard about the restoration and wanted to see for themselves.

"People would come by and dad would stop to talk with them," Snow said. "He decided to put up a sign for $1 tours. People lined up with their dollar bills. It became a way to pay for the restoration."

Snow said the property is being handled by Crye-Leike Realtors, and the asking price is $2.9 million.

"Crye-Leike handles historical properties all over the country and antebellum homes all over the south," Snow said. "We hope the new owners will continue to make the Waverly available to the public. There is still a guide at the site and the house is still open for visitors."

Built by Colonel George Hampton Young of Georgia in 1852, Waverley is a remarkable example of antebellum elegance. From its octagonal shaped cupola to its self-supporting curved stairways, Waverley is unique among antebellum plantation homes in the south. As with most historical structures, Waverley also has its share of ghost stories in conjunction with the property.

"My mother was not one to believe in ghosts," Snow said. "She was very much based in reality. But she said she had seen the ghost of a little girl. She had seen the indentation of what looked like a child on the bed. I had no reason not to believe her. She said she heard the voice of a small girl say 'Mama, Mama' she asked if she could help and never heard the voice or saw the little girl again."

Although the actual beginning construction date is uncertain, 1852 is the accepted year that Waverley reached full magnificence. The plantation was a self-sustaining community complete with gardens, orchards and livestock. It maintained a brick kiln, cotton gin, ice house and swimming pool with a bathhouse. Gas for the chandeliers was produced by burning pine knots in a retort.
In later years, Waverley had its own lumber mill, leather tannery and hat manufacturing operation. It is believed that the first American-made saddle blankets were produced at Waverley and the first fox hunt association was formed in the mansion's library in 1893.

Mrs. Young died before Waverley was completed, but she left her mark in the English boxwoods planted at the entrance. These plants, which grow only one foot every 15 years, are estimated to be 150 years old.

The decline of Waverley began in 1913 with the death of Col. Young's last surviving son, Captain William Young. For almost 50 years magnificent Waverley stood alone enduring plunderers, harsh weather and vandals.
Waverley was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Snow of Philadelphia, in 1962, and they began a remarkable labor of love to restore the mansion and 40 acres to its former magnificence..
Waverly Mansion is on the National Registry of Historic Places and a National Historical Landmark.

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