Ware's Folly

Augusta, Georgia – Ware’s Folly cost $40,000 to build back in 1818!  Nicholas Ware, who was serving as Mayor of Augusta at that time, constructed this house with the best of everything.  This house was nearly demolished back in the 1930s, and saved by a New Yorker!  This grand old home has quite the story to tell.

landmark homes of georgia
Ware’s Folly in 2019

The citizens of Augusta thought the cost of this house was so extravagant, they called it a folly.  Thus the name Ware’s Folly.  After serving as Mayor of Augusta, Nicholas Ware was elected as a U.S. Senator where he served until his death in 1824.  This house still impresses passersby 201 years after its construction.  T

Entry detail

Inside the house, the floating staircase runs from the main floor all the way up to the finished attic, and is quite an impressive sight.

floating staircase
The floating staircase (from Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art site)

Originally the two rooms on the left could be opened up to form a ballroom.  This 1930s photo shows the doorway.

Historic Augusta
These doors opened to form a ballroom (Library of Congress photo)

This house was the home of several prominent families in Augusta over the years.  W.C. Sibley, who ran Sibley Manufacturing Company, bought the house around 1870 and made some renovations.  One major change: the kitchen was moved to the basement and a dumbwaiter installed to send food up to the dining room.  Prior to this time, it was in a separate building behind the house.

Details, details, details!

The last owner of the house left the upper floors vacant and made an apartment in the basement to live in.  The house was falling into disrepair, and by the 1930s there was the possibility of demolition.  Looking at the house in the 1930s photos below, the outside is looking rough.  Remember, in the 1930s we were in the midst of the Great Depression.  Times were tough.

Ware's Folly
1936 photo (Library of Congress)

Ware’s Folly – Saved by a New Yorker!

Ware’s Folly was purchased by Olivia Herbert of New York.  Like many wealthy Northerners, their family wintered in Augusta.  She bought the house in 1937, had it renovated and then donated it to the Augusta Art Club.  Her daughter had recently passed away, and the Augusta Art Club was renamed in her honor – and became the Gertrude Herbert Institue of Art .  The Institute offers a variety of art classes and workshops.  Ware’s Folly has adapted well to it’s new purpose.  It’s fascinating to see contemporary art along the walls of this 1818 home.

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