Nicholas Ware, a prominent Georgia businessman and politician, built this mansion on the outskirts of Augusta in 1818. The cost of construction – over $40,000 – was outrageous for the time period, leading to the moniker Ware’s Folly. After Ware’s death in 1824, the home was purchased by several other prominent Georgians, including Civil War hero James Gardner in 1826 and industrialist William Sibley in 1871. The home is one of the finest examples of Federalist architecture in the whole state. The exterior is highlighted by detailed pilasters, bay windows and a three-tiered portico with symmetrical wings on either side. The interior boasts distinctive moldings, fireplaces and a curving “floating” staircase from the main floor to the finished attic.
The home was purchased and renovated in 1937 by Olivia Herbert, who donated the property to the Augusta Art Club (renamed the Gertrude Herbert Memorial Institute of Art), which still owns the property. The exterior of the house has fallen into disrepair. A long range plan is critical for the future of this nationally significant landmark.