The Decaying Mansion of Antiques: A Hidden Gem of the Deep South

Believe it or not, one of my most important resources for this blog is you, dear reader. This morning, I opened my email inbox to find a most enchanting tip about a beautiful sprawling old mansion in Savannah, Georgia with peeling paint, missing plaster on the walls but not without chandeliers and best of all, filled to the brim with antique treasures.

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“When we first went in the store, we honestly didn’t even realize it was more than just a cramped cellar filled with furniture,” describes reader Anna, who stumbled upon the hidden-in-plain-sight gem on a recent visit to Savannah with her husband. “As soon as we walked in, the owner, Alex, began talking to us and mentioned he had antiques located on all 4 floors of the house (say what?!). Anyway, we wandered upstairs and were floored to find not only beautiful antique furniture stacked wall-to-wall, but it was located in a truly stunning mansion.”

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I took it upon myself to do a little digging on the history of the house, which is located on the southern fringes of Savannah’s historic district at 3 West Gordon Street, although the inconspicuous entrance to the antiques store, Alex Raskin Antiques, is located on the side of the house on the corner of 441 Bull Street.

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Unrestored but timeless, still sitting more or less in its original state, the pre-Civil War house is named after its first owner, Noble Hardee, a cotton merchant who began building the home in 1860, but died before its completion. Throughout the Civil War, it remained uncompleted until the Reconstruction era of the 1870s when it became one of the city’s most sophisticated mansions, playing host to the likes of President Chester A. Arthur, who regularly visited his relative Henry Botts there.

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It has since been associated with a number of notable and guests, including the Ashcraft family (of Coca Cola) and in the 1940s, it served as part of Armstrong Junior College.

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In 1995, it was used in the movie Something to Talk About, starring Julia Roberts, who used the mansion as a meeting place to ask the local women to tell her who her husband was sleeping with. 

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The Noble Hardee Mansion was finished in the Italianate style and has 15 fireplaces as well as a cast iron balcony and gold painted on the outer frames of the windows. The color of stucco used was changed from grey to pink over the years.

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Today, it is “the last unrestored grand mansion in Savannah”. The paint peels, windows are broken, the floors creak worryingly, and while some visitors to Alex Ruskin Antiques are shocked to see the historic home in its tired and run-down state, others argue the authentic faded grandeur adds to the mystique and charm.

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Raskin, the current owner of the home, who has spent more than 25 years filling the mansion with finds from auctions around the world, says he has not restored the structure because he wants tot save the fun of restoration for whomever buys the home– that is if anyone is willing to make a serious offer!

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“The house itself was absolutely beautiful,” recalls my reader, Anna. “I was also surprised by how accessible Alex had made the furniture – I’m a born and raised American, so to see pieces from the 1700 and 1800s that I could touch and open was amazing to me– these pieces seemed like they should be in museums.”