If the walls of the Noble Hardee Mansion could talk, they’d have to speak up to be heard over the hoard of antiques jostling for attention in their rooms.
Billing itself as the “last unrestored grand mansion of Savannah,” this decaying southern gem lives up to its own hype: peeling paint, crumbling plaster, and genteel neglect. Currently an antique store, it is a mecca for those who love old stuff, enjoy decrepitude-induced shivers, or any combination thereof.
Commenced in 1860 by the man who shares its name, the Noble Hardee Mansion looks down and out on Monterey Square. Completed in 1869, it claims the distinction of visits from genial — and utterly forgettable — US President Chester A. Arthur. Variously tenement apartments, and part of the adjacent Armstrong Junior College in the 1940s, it is one of only a few buildings to have been designated “exceptional” by the Historic Savannah Foundation.
Visitors to the current antique store enter through the ground floor cellar and work their way up. Acrobatic agility is a plus as you side shuffle through the narrow labyrinth of stacked tables and armoires. Take care not to bump that 18th century hand-painted writing desk — its price tag says “$45,000.”
If you don’t have $45,000 in spare change, Alex Raskin Antiques is still well worth the visit. This is not so much a store as a museum, and not even so much a museum as the unseen and dusty storage space of a museum — if that storage space came complete with “15 fireplaces and exquisite plaster details.”
What whispered intrigue was overheard by this fragment of hand-painted 18th-century French wallpaper? Whom did this Victorian toy belong to and what did they grow up to be? What dreams were dreamed under this frayed and threadbare quilt? And how on earth are these 150-year-old floors supporting a forest’s worth (at least) of antique chairs, cabinetry, and bed frames?