Joni Mitchell famously crooned, "you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone." But in the case of this jaw-dropping mansion in Spartanburg, South Carolina, it's pretty clear already what we're about to lose.
The home is dubbed Bon Haven and has been a landmark in Spartanburg since its construction in 1884, , who played a significant role in the early development of the city and is often referred to as its "first citizen." Cleveland invested heavily in local banks and schools and also represented South Carolina in the House of Representatives.
As was typical for a man of such prominence, his home was constructed in the then-fashionable French Second Empire style, with a decadent mansard roof and a large central tower. It was a sight to behold in its day, but after the Neoclassical columns and a portico were added in the 1920s, Bon Haven reached a level of architectural grandeur that would be nearly impossible to replicate today.
Cleveland's estate originally sat on 91 acres; the granite used to construct the home's foundation was drawn from a private quarry on the property. Over the years, the property has been reduced to just over six acres, but maintains the feeling of a private oasis, secluded from the rest of downtown Spartanburg.
A peek through extensive landscaping reveals an abandoned mansion, partially taken over by nature — no one has lived here since 1995, when the last family member to occupy the home passed away.
A lesser-known fact about Cleveland is that he also served as the president of the Spartanburg Historical Society — an irony, to say the least, since his majestic home, one of the most historically significant buildings in the area, is about to become a mere memory. In February, the city officially granted the owner permission to demolish the building.
Of course, as with all good preservation battles, this didn't happen without great public outcry and multiple attempts from several parties (the owner included) to salvage the home. But with the high cost of restoration and the structural damage that 20 years of abandonment had left on the building, the stars did not align for Bon Haven. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but sadly that does not protect it from demolition.
The stunning photos shown in this article were taken in 2015 by for , which is currently in possession of many of the home's significant architectural elements.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. The , which had attempted to raise enough money to save the endangered mansion, was able to repurpose some of their funding to start the "as a revolving preservation fund to identify, purchase, stabilize, maintain, market and/or sell historic properties in Spartanburg County." The first of the new fund's projects is an effort to stabilize and restore the endangered, circa1927 Montgomery Theater in downtown Spartanburg.
Let the beauty of these photos serve as a bleak reminder to cherish those pieces of our communities that we all hold near and dear. For we never know when they just might disappear.