Exploring The Historic Waverly Mansion

By Peter Powell

While once only viewed in newspaper articles and history books, tours are now being offered at a national historic landmark near West Point, Mississippi. The site is that of the Waverly mansion, a plantation home that first received national historic status in 1973. While the original construction occurred between the early 1840s and 1852, the property fell into disrepair once the original owner and descendants had passed on.

As far as the structure goes, many believe the interior and exterior to be amazing works of art. Beginning with the octagonal rotunda, the layout and design combine various elements. Some of which include technology, history and ornamental aspects. Built in the tradition of Jefferson, the entire property boasts the ultimate when it comes to early American architecture. As a result, the property received national historic status in 1973.

The unique staircase, cupola and hallway are often the first things visitors notice after proceeding through the rotunda. These features, many of which have been restored all reflect the original aspects of the mansion. Robert Snow, who purchased the property in 1962 is responsible for remodeling and restoring the property to its original glory. After which, the property became eligible for listing on the national historic register.

The plantation has some interesting history. To begin with, it was one of the only self-sufficient plantations in the south. For, along with the help of slaves, the original owners and varying descendants created all necessities of home. Whether by growing food and livestock, or creating bandages and clothing from cotton and other resources, it truly was a self-sufficient universe.

Now, nearly 150 to 200 years later, some local plantations are still operating. Whereas, there are also a number of modern families living in the area. As such, many now visit West Point, Mississippi, eight miles to the east for all these necessities and more. For those traveling with children, it can often be good to explain the past and present history of the area before arrival.

West Point is a rather small town covering only 20 square miles. In addition, the water supply is quite limited, so many of those still operating plantations must own wells or order water from outside sources. Most often, these owners will stock high capacity water tanks or install expensive irrigation systems so as to have enough water to grow produce and livestock.

With all the dark history, there has been new light shed on the area. For, each Labor Day Weekend, a blues festival paying homage to Howlin Wolf occurs in West Point on Friday night. After which, the Prairie Arts festival happens on Saturday. While Friday focuses on music, amusement park rides, local music, shopping and a car show often take precedent on Saturday.

The Prairie Arts festival also boasts amusement park rides, music and shopping. As a result, it is one of the favorite family friendly events held each in the state. For the more adventurous, there is also a 5K mile run along with a car show. While not exactly as big or as exciting as a county or State fair, the festival still draws a large crowd each year. When visiting the area during this time of year, it is often good to bring insect repellent, sunscreen, a hat and plan on wearing long sleeves when venturing near any accumulated or stagnant water sources.

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