The Historical Abdullah Efendi Mansion
The Abdullah Efendi Mansion’s story goes back a good 160 years. The very first owner of the mansion was the priest of the then Papazlık Church. The priest immigrated to Lesbos Island at a time between the end of WWI and the Turkish War of Independence. The priest exchanged his properties and goods with Abdullah Asaf Efendi a resident of Lesbos Island who was about to immigrate to Turkey around the same time. Thus the second owner of the mansion became Abdullah Efendi and the mansion was from then on regarded as Abdulah Efendi Mansion.
The mansion was constructed by Turkish and Greek foremen under Ottoman architectural style. European inspirations can also be seen in ceiling decorations (rosette and cassette) and fireplace decorations. Bedding storages are seen in the closets. Wood sidings in the outer walls, window systems (especially the upper openings for lighting) and hand carved ornaments under the alcove are worth mentioning.
Abdullah Efendi is known to be the wealthiest person in the Papazlık village -as it was called then. As wealthy as he was, he was also well educated and humble. He reconstructed the mansion without changing the original structure and decorations. He refurbished the place using furniture unprecedented in the region, brought and used dining table (the general habit was floor tables then) and used Portuguese and French lamps for lighting. The mansion was heated with fireplaces where available and in their absence with coloured or white small French tile stoves with metal trays. The mansion had a domed bath (hamam) with constant hot and cold water.
Abdullah Efendi’s wife Hatice Hanım planted yellow roses in the garden and she used to walk around the garden every morning with a basket in her hand, cut a few roses, put them into a vase beside Abdullah Efendi’s tinted wickerwork rocking chair.
Abdullah Efendi employed a clerk named Rıfat bey and he was known to be a true patriot. During Independence War, Rıfat bey used to meet with a gang leader Sergeant İlhan and other patriots in the mansion and sought ways of helping Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He then went to Ankara and became an MP. Abdullah Efendi family and MP Rıfat bey always had good relations. MP Rıfat bey is also known to be the person who was instrumental in changing the name of the village from Papazlık to Altınoluk, when he said –referring to Abdullah Efendi’s abundant olive oil- “here in this village gold flows through canals” (hence the name gold=altın, canal=oluk). The mansion was also a place of cultural events and fine tastes. There were intellectual debates, music from lute and zither was heard, people from afar were lodged in the guest house in the garden and there was always food for the visitors.
Although they were wealthy people, Abduallh Asaf was struck with the pain of losing three sons. He and his wife had four sons and a daughter. His sons Atıf, Ekrem and Ali died in accidents or in the hands of measles and smallpox, illnesses that have been long eradicated now. Their daughter Nigar and their son Ahmet Nihat lived. Despite their losses they still had a good and loving life and provided their remaining children with good education.
After the decease of Abdullah Efendi, his son Ahmet Nihat the district governor of Edirne left his job and returned home to take over his father’s businesses.
Abdullah Efendi was buried beside Altınoluk Mosque but after the expropriation of the area, his grave was moved to Mecit Hill.
The maintenance of the mansion was a hard task so by the help of Altınoluk municipality the heirs transferred the ownership of the mansion in return for a symbolic amount to the Ministry of Culture as a contribution to Turkish culture in 1972. Today the grand-children of Abdullah Efendi live in Edremit (Akçay, Altınoluk) and Istanbul. The family took the family name Edis for themselves during the transformation years following the establishment of the new republic. A grandchild, Asaf Edis had the first switchboard installed in Altınoluk by his own means. His daughter Lale Edis Çolakoğlu is alive and we sometimes have the pleasure of listening to her memoirs about the Mansion. As there are no male siblings, Lale Edis Çolakoğlu is the last person carrying the Edis family name.
The mansion saw some restoration works by the Ministry of Culture in 1989-1990. But it is a pity that the restoration works were not handled according to the original plans. The historical baths were removed and modern bathrooms and showers were installed, the installation of a modern heating system also damaged the historical texture of the building. Then, the mansion was again left without maintenance and care; seasonal olive workers stayed in the building and it was almost ruined. Taking into consideration the works of Altınoluk Association for Recovery Conservation and Sustention of Antandros City, the Ministry of Culture let the Association use the building as the association centre and as a culture house for a certain period of time. The Association started repairing the building in February 2001. The parts that were damaged by rain water from the impaired roof were fixed, cleaned and waxed; the garden was rearranged and opened to visitors. Cost was undertaken by the Association. In December 2001, with the contribution of the Ministry of Culture, the roof was repaired and the window profiles were changed. The renewal of the façade of the building and the recovery of the impaired ceiling decorations in the upper floors were handled by experts under the supervision of the Association. In December 2001, the Ministry of Culture transferred the Mansion to the Ministry of Finance. Today, Abdullah Efendi Mansion welcomes its visitors as Antandros Information Centre and culture house.