Waverley (sometimes spelled Waverly) is a mansion and former plantation located between Columbus and West Point, Mississippi, in Clay County. The home was designed by architect Charles Pond and built for Col. George Hampton Young, a lawyer and former member of the Georgia legislature. The property lies off the west bank of the Tombigbee River on land Young purchased in 1835. The following year the family and their 25 slaves arrived at the site. During construction, Col. Young, his wife, Lucy Woodson Watkins Young, and their children lived in a two-story log dogtrot cabin on the property. By the time the building was completed, around 1852, Young had amassed more than two thousand acres of land and owned more than 117 slaves, but Lucy Young had died. The original homestead, which had been moved to accommodate the new residence, became an outdoor kitchen. Young named Waverley after Sir Walter Scott’s 1841 novel.
The four-story, eight-thousand-square-foot, H-shaped home is an example of Greek Revival architecture, characterized by symmetry and stately Ionic columns. Waverley is notable for its four interior circular staircases, which connect free-standing cantilevered balconies. Rivaling the staircases is a sixty-five-foot domed foyer topped by an octagonal cupola. The parlor contains a built-in wedding alcove and an ormolu chandelier. The funnel-shaped combination of the foyer and cupola created a kind of suction, pulling hot air to the ceiling so it could escape through the cupola’s windows. Transom windows above the bedroom doorways provide cross-ventilation.
In the antebellum period Waverley was a prosperous plantation that was home to orchards, gardens, livestock, and kennels for hunting dogs. The property also contained a cotton gin, a tannery, a brick kiln, an ice house, an artesian well, and a private swimming pool with a bathhouse. In addition, Waverley featured slave cabins, a carriage house, a barn, and a guesthouse as well as woolen, lumber, flour, and grist mills.
The Youngs were staunch secessionists. All six sons fought in the Confederacy, and one lost his life during the war. The plantation’s remote location allowed the house to remain virtually untouched by the conflict. Waverley housed many displaced people during the war, including Isabella Buchanan Edmondson, a Confederate scout and spy who fled to the plantation to avoid capture by Union soldiers.
Colonel Young died in 1880, and the mansion remained in the family until 1913, when his last surviving son, Capt. William Young, died. Waverley became vacant for more than fifty years and began to deteriorate, housing squatters as well as a two-hundred-pound beehive in the cupola. Robert and Donna Snow of Philadelphia, Mississippi, purchased the property in 1962 and began a lengthy renovation. Waverley is now a National Historic Landmark and a National Restoration Award winner, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It remains a private residence but is open for tours.
- Mary Wallace Crocker, Historic Architecture in Mississippi (1973)
- Belle Edmondson, A Lost Heroine of the Confederacy: The Diaries and Letters of Belle Edmondson, ed. William Galbraith and Loretta Galbraith (1990)
- Mary Carol Miller, Great Houses of Mississippi (2004)