There have been whispers about the place for years.
“Have you heard about the castle on Young’s Mill Road?” people will ask. Carloads of curious visitors have driven past it and wondered at the sight of crenellated towers and battlements barely visible above the long brick wall that surrounds the property.
Others have spoken of the “mean hermit” who lives there; a supposed Quasimodo-like character who lives alone in the mansion bristling at anyone who dares set foot on his property.
In fact, the exact opposite is true.
The house is wonderfully out of place. It’s an idealized slice of the English countryside nestled among Georgia pines. Parts of the house bring to mind the refinement of Oscar Wilde or Noel Coward or Agatha Christie or P.G. Wodehouse with all their de rigeur “humour” — the British vehemently keep the “u” in the word — thrown in for good measure.
Here, one might expect the characters of Downton Abbey to enter the room momentarily with Dame Maggie Smith as the gloriously self-righteous Dowager Countess of Grantham slowly treading behind spitting her venomous wit like an adder.
It’s very hard to imagine that this place exists in Troup County. But it does and it’s now for sale.
Great architecture — like great art in general — is really meant to stir something deep inside the viewer or one who enters an aesthetically pleasing building. The strong elegance that this house exudes causes the viewer to straighten their posture and walk a bit more nobly. The architecture, like a proper but loving aunt, reassuringly reminds you to mind your manners.
Far from the mean-spirited ogre as he is portrayed in local rumors, the home’s owner, M. Peck Brumby, is the epitome of the Southern gentleman. An Atlanta native and descended from some of that city’s most prominent families, he’s exceedingly charming and warm. The house reflects his mannered disposition and slightly irreverent sense of humor.
Mr. Brumby purchased the historic Young estate in 1994. According to Troup County Historian, Clark Johnson, the property has been occupied since 1834, just a few years after the city of LaGrange was chartered. The Young family purchased the property following the Civil War and constructed a grist mill on Beech Creek.
The mill was destroyed by fire, though the ruins still lay beside the creek near the house. The creek now feeds into West Point Lake while the Young house, a Tudor-style home built in the 1920’s, remained. “It was very well-built,” Brumby says.
He’d lived in the old Young house for about a year when he decided he needed new kitchen cabinets. “I should have taken the measurements down to Home Depot and said, ‘build me some cabinets for this kitchen,’” he replies.
But one thing led to another. “I didn’t have a back door, so I had to bring the groceries through the front door.” Within a few years, the Young house had been renovated out of existence.
The Young house still exists within the walls of the new house and Brumby has left parts of the floor plan intact. As a small memorial to the house, one of the original fireplaces remains in the basement, though it sits some feet off the floor.
In the kitchen, the Young’s old stove proudly sits in the corner. Though still in working condition, it has been replaced by a state of the art commercial range.
Hiring the architectural firm of Polites & Cook, noted landscape architect, Spencer Tunnell, and local master builder Ben Parham, Brumby slowly turned the Young home into what is essentially an English country house. Parham describes the house as “an English castle with Medieval flavor and Tudor influences.”
The ingenious designs incorporate many different stylistic influences from the Medieval battlements to the Tudor chimneys to the 18th century classically-influenced panelled living room to a Gothic Revival dark panelled library. One feels that the home’s long history is told in its design.
Perhaps it was built as a fortified manor house in the Middle Ages and at some later point became a convent or abbey. During Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the property may have been seized, sacked and partially destroyed only to be presented to one the king’s favorites. As centuries passed, various owners added their own twist to the home’s style keeping it up to the present day.
At least that’s certainly how one could imagine the history.
Besides the old Young home that remains within the walls, the house does have some actual antique features. The roof tiles date to the early 20th century and originally crowned the Grove Park Golf Club in Asheville, N.C. Brumby purchased the old clay roof tiles after they were removed during a renovation of the building. The tiles were likely manufactured by the Ludowici Roofing Tile Company in Ludowici, Ga.
The living room is a copy of Brumby’s grandmother’s living room designed by noted Georgia architect Neel Reid. Reid, of the Atlanta firm of Hentz, Reid and Adler also designed the local Callaway mansion, Hills & Dales.
While retaining its antique charm, the house is equipped with all the modern amenities. The kitchen and butler’s pantry are equipped with granite counter-tops, panelled refrigerators and handy pull-out spice racks and gadget racks next to the commercial range.
The basement of the house features a hot tub in the limestone floor, a steam room, dry sauna, gym and wine cellar. Brumby humorously describes it as “a typical middle Georgia basement.” A pool in the back yard features a water jet which converts it to a fountain with the flip of a switch.
The more than 17 acres included with the home’s sale also include a formal vegetable garden, multiple car garage and a small guest cottage.
While this marvelous estate has many good memories for Brumby, “the steps are beginning to be a problem,” he says. Until the house is sold next month, he’ll continue to climb the panelled stairs of one of the largest and most elegant homes in Troup County.
The auction will also include 7 separate lots in The Cloisters subdivision nearby.
The house will go on the auction block on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 3:30 p.m. An auction price was not released. Open houses will be held Sept. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The house will be open to viewing on Sept. 22 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The house may also be viewed by appointment. For further information, visit the The Auction Way Company website, www.theauctionway.com