Fire guts historic mansion, destroys auction consignments

By Mark F. Moran

ABERDEEN, Miss. — An early morning fire on June 26 dealt a double blow to this historic town in northeast Mississippi: The blaze gutted the restored 1856 Adams-French Mansion, and in the process. destroyed perhaps $500,000 worth of art and antiques that had been consigned to Stevens Auction Co. Auctioneer Dwight Stevens owns the antebellum home, which served as the venue for many of his high-profile sales.

Stevens was preparing for a July 15 auction that featured the contents of an 1832 Greek Revival home as well as a lifetime antique collection from an estate near Birmingham, Ala. About 75 percent of the auction inventory had already been transferred to the home, with the rest remaining in storage at Stevens’ Aberdeen warehouse.

The fire was reported to the Aberdeen Fire Department shortly after midnight on June 26. Within an hour, the firefighters were joined by the local Cedar Creek Volunteer Fire Department, but by 6 a.m. the interior of the Adams-French Mansion was a charred and smoldering ruins. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but investigators are focusing their attention on electrical wiring in the basement.

Stevens’ office manager, Jeff Archer, told Antique Trader that firefighters waged a losing battle for seven hours trying to save the once grand and imposing white-pillared home. “Every time they thought they had it under control, it would flare up again,” said Archer, who had just posted images of the burned-out shell of the residence on the company’s Web site, “They poured 20,000 gallons of water in there until it was 2 feet deep in the basement.”

Archer said the state fire marshal would be at the scene on June 28. He estimated the value of the home alone at about $350,000

A full-size concert grand piano was considered a total loss, along with a Mitchell & Rammelsberg high-back rosewood bed with an elaborately carved headboard that stood more than 10 feet tall. Archer estimated the value of the consigned antiques destroyed in the fire at around $500,000.

Read the full story in the July 12 issue of Antique Trader.


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