Waverley (Waverly), West Point Mississippi

Date added: August 09, 2021 Categories: Mississippi House
1975 Octagonal central hall, view from west

Unique in design and rich in detail, Waverley represents the personal wealth and tastes of its builder. Colonel George H. Young. The octagonal rotunda which projects through the roof as a cupola is both a grand entertainment space and an effective means of natural ventilation. Begun in the 1840s and completed in 1852, Waverley combines ornament and technology in the tradition of Jefferson. The varied decorative treatment of each room is artistic and the lighting system, using gas manufactured on the site, was scientific.

Waverley is distinguished by the immense octagonal space, the central element in an "H" plan, which rises four stories and projects through the hip roof as an oversize cupola with 16 windows. The porticoes, front and rear, are Ionic, distyle in antis, two stories in height with iron railed galleries at the second story. An interesting feature of the front portico is the pattern of bevelled siding which alternates square edged boards with triangular-faced boards. The entire exterior is of white-painted wood siding with pilastered treatment of the corners, broad moldings around the windows and a dentil molding at the cornice, octagonal chimneys repeat the form of the cupola at much-reduced scale.

The front entrance has ruby glass in the sidelights and transom with wood cutouts of lyres against the exterior of the panes. The rear entrance is flanked on the interior by paired curving stairs; the delicate walnut railings and balusters are repeated at all levels of the central well or rotunda. From an unusually large plaster rosette in the cupola ceiling, the original central gas chandelier is suspended to the level of the second floor. On each floor four large rooms open from the rotunda. Each differs in decorative treatment; the moldings and marble mantels in the second-floor bedrooms are as rich or richer than those on the first floor. The parlor has ornate plaster trim including the arch of a "wedding alcove."

Waverley, begun in the 1840s, was completed in 1852 by Colonel George H. Young, whose career included service in the legislatures of both Georgia and Mississippi. A man of business, he built warehouses, erected a store saw and grist mills, and operated the ferry across the Tombigbee. The grounds of Waverley also included orchards, gardens, kennels, an ice house, gas plant and the development of an artesian well with bathhouses and pool.

Col. Young, the father of six sons and three daughters, obviously enjoyed companionship and designed the house for generous hospitality and comfort The central well provides a great gathering place or ballroom as well as a flue for effective natural air-conditioning.

Although it had been vacant for more than 40 years, the house survived with interior details, chandeliers, even some mirrors and carpet intact. It was carefully restored in the 1970's. An office adjacent to the house has been restored. The boxwoods, made grotesque by the rubbing of cattle pastured on the property when the house stood vacant, are growing out again.