Grand Auction For Grand Home

Published 6:56 pm Friday, November 5, 2010

It’s listed in the auction guide as item No. 600.

Standing at more than 10 feet tall, the empire full testerplantation bed dates back to 1840, the prime years of the OldSouth, when it was considered a normal possession for a wealthyplanter rather than the example of antiquity it is today. The darkmahogany vessel of rest is fit for a king, a queen or a general -Gen. Douglas MacArthur slept beneath its drape during a visit toNatchez’s Stanton Hall after World War II.

The bed is valued somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000. Itwill be sold to the highest bidder Saturday morning along with 800other pieces of antique furniture, art and other antebellumadornments on the front lawn of Edgewood Mansion.

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“These are really some exceptional things,” said Dwight Stevens,owner of Aberdeen’s antique-specializing Stevens Auction Company.”This really was the grandest house in Brookhaven and, at one time,the grandest in Mississippi.”

The items gathered from Edgewood, Brookhaven’s Hardy House andanother antique mine in Germantown, Tenn., will be auctioned offbeginning at 9 a.m. at Edgewood at 412 Storm Avenue. The items willbe auctioned without a starting bid, and the event will last aslong as it takes to unload the hallowed old objects.

Many of the pieces slated for sale are dripping withmajesty.

Item No. 102, a marble-topped walnut sideboard standing morethan 8 feet tall and decorated with an intricate carving, datesback to 1860. The much more utilitarian federal mahogany sideboard- item No. 132 – reaches back through time to 1800.

The perfect curves and fine carvings on item No. 124 – amahogany highboy with bonnet top, gadrooned edge and clawed feet -mark the evidence of a master maker. It stands taller than 7 feetand dates back to 1820. Item No. 610 hangs like moss from thetrees; it’s a bronze Tiffany light fixture with signed Quezelshades.

All the antiques are going to whoever wants them most.

“The economy has really affected auctions, and that makes it agood time to buy,” Stevens said. “Antiques are always a goodinvestment.”

With 800 pieces in the auction coming from within Edgewood, someof the finest items from one of Brookhaven’s finest old homes willbe up for grabs.

Current owner David Lovell purchased the 98-year-old EdgewoodMansion in 1956. Lovell, 84, an artist and designer whose talentsare still visible on many notable Brookhaven homes, made his livingon the house for decades, hosting weddings and parties and buying,selling and trading antiques in and out of its commendablestock.

But after a stroke and open-heart surgery in recent years, he’sready to put his business in order.

“It’s time for me to close the door, I guess,” Lovell said. “I’mnot able to do what I used to do. It’s time for me to slowdown.”

Lovell is hoping the auction will generate enough money to beginrestoring the house, which is still quite structurally sound but inneed of renovation. The entire estate cost him $25,000 when hebought it 54 years ago, and he estimates he’s spent between$400,000 and $500,000 on the house in those five decades.

Edgewood needs one more big investment to prepare it forLovell’s passing. The home is to be sold upon his death, with theprofits left to his relatives.

Hopefully that day, when the home and all its splendor andhistory change hands, is still many years away. It would take justas long to tell it all.

Edgewood took four years to complete, built of Lincoln Countylumber between 1908 and 1912 by Charles S. Butterfield, a timbermagnate who owned sawmills throughout Mississippi. Artisans fromNew Orleans came to Brookhaven to sculpt the home’s moldings, andthe grand staircase inside was inspired by a similar flight ofsteps in the bowels of a cruise ship the Butterfields had sailedon.

The family had tickets to sail home on the Titanic when it leftSouthampton, England, on April 10, 1912. They missed the departuredue to a late train.

Another locally famous Edgewood owner was Dr. Harry Hannon, whoused the giant home as his medical clinic. Known as the “IndianDoctor,” Hannon’s patients would move into Edgewood while hetreated them. Lovell said Hannon was both loved and distrusted, notreally a medical doctor but a “psychic surgeon.” Still, heperformed medical miracles in Edgewood before he died in asecond-floor room.

Since then, the home has been used for generations ofBrookhavenites, who’ve held parties, socials, weddings, reunionsand other memory-building exercises in its great halls.

Somewhere, mixed in with the 800 items being auctioned fromEdgewood, is likely a chair the Indian Doctor sat in, a dresserwhere Butterfield hung his fine coat or a couch on which a youngBrookhaven couple fell in love during one of those heady parties offirst families.

“This will be great for Brookhaven. We’ve never had an auctionlike this,” Lovell said. “When it’s over I’ll have an empty house,I hope.”