published Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Historic Cragsmere Manor to be auctioned Tuesday

The Cragsmere Manor home in Mentone, Ala., will be auctioned next Tuesday. The historic structure dates back to the 1860s
The Cragsmere Manor home in Mentone, Ala., will be auctioned next Tuesday. The historic structure dates back to the 1860s
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

One of the oldest homes on the top of Lookout Mountain will be sold to the highest bidder Tuesday, more than a century and a half after it first was built and bought by a former slave.

The historic Cragsmere Manor, part of which dates back to the Civil War in the 1860s, will be sold at absolute auction by The National Auction Group Inc., which specializes in auctions of luxury and unique properties.

The landmark homestead on the brow of Lookout Mountain in Mentone, Ala., was bought by a former slave after the Civil War. Starting in the 1980s, the Cragsmere Manor operated as "The Country Gourmet" restaurant before the eatery closed in 2008.

Joe Johnson, a Fairhope, Ala., businessman who bought and restored the mountaintop manor three years ago, said he decided to sell both the six-bedroom and adjacent five-bedroom homes on the Cragsmere site through an auction after observing similar sales in Florida.

"These type of auctions create a lot of excitement and interest," he said. "This is a beautiful piece of property, but I own three other homes in Mentone so I need to sell two of them."

The National Auction Group in Gadsden, Ala., conducts about 40 such auctions a year of oceanfront, mountaintop and other unique properties across the South.

"This is good for the seller because he knows the property will sell Tuesday in a competitive bidding market," said William Bone, president of National Auction Group. "It's great for the buyer because these sales often produce bargain prices, and in this case, there is owner financing."

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