MILLIONS WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE WAVERLEY

CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: HARPER

MILLIONS WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE WAVERLEY

A stately Mississippi mansion is going to be featured on “American Castles,” a program on A&E Tupelo Channel 25, sometime after filming that is scheduled for three days in August.

For years people from around the world with an interest in history and architecture have visited Waverley Plantation Mansion, located on a bluff above the Tombigbee River between West Point and Columbus, and now millions will see it on television.

Waverley is a special place, open to the public daily and worth seeing anytime, but a special living history re-enactment and ball are scheduled this Saturday afternoon and evening.

My interest in history and historic buildings – from log cabins to mansions – first led me to Waverley in 1969. My friendship with owners Robert and Donna Snow and their children grew through the years, and I’ve been back countless times on both ordinary days and special occasions.

Mississippi has many beautiful old homes, but Waverley and Lochinvar are the two I’ve always enjoyed most, and I’ve written about them more than others. (Lochinvar will be open to the public the evening of June 8, but that’s a story for another day.)

The history of our homeland – of all peoples and lands – is important. Truthfully told, history glorifies neither war nor slavery, but helps new generations avoid old mistakes. Nor is such history unique to us. Since recorded time, people have enslaved one another, and wars have been fought for causes just and unjust, but none of this should keep us from enjoying all the good and beautiful things that remain.

Among reasons I am partial to Waverley and Lochinvar are their serene rural locations, and perhaps that each is owned by folks who are my friends, but seems to me each of these places has a friendly, happy aura that is beyond my ability to tell with words.

But back the festivities Saturday …

Known in legend as “the lost mansion,” Waverley was literally lost in the wilderness for 50 years before Robert and Donna Snow discovered the magnificent structure in the 1960s, and preserved something of beauty and historic value for generations to come.

With three children, they moved into the old mansion and began restoration, and the fourth child was born there. Living conditions were primitive at first, but the Snows, as learned in history as they were in antiques and architecture, tended to many details of restoration with their own hands. Today, the dignity and grandeur of the building itself is matched by its antique furnishings.

After her mother’s death, Melanie returned to help carry on the work, and will be there Saturday with other family members and friends. Melanie gave me excerpts from a journal (another another-day story) of Melyssa Dobbs Rodriguez of Columbus, who will be a hostess, while her brothers are with the Possum Town Reenactors.

Robert issued an invitation to “come as you are,” so guests will arrive in everything from modern informal wear to fine antebellum evening attire, from the military uniforms of officers to the clothing of common foot soldiers.

Gates open at 5 p.m. for the special festivities, and admission is $5, which covers the ball at 7. Proceeds will be used for a monument at Shiloh National Park honoring Mississippians who died there. For more information call 494-1399.

Any visit to Waverley is memorable, the Snows are gracious hosts, and you always feel welcome. Saturday offers even more, from watching re-enactments and strolling beautifully landscaped gardens to seeing the mansion itself and dancing to live music of the Civil War period.

Phyllis Harper is Daily Journal feature editor.

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