Founded in 1716, Natchez is one of the oldest settlements in the South. It is known for its magnificent antebellum homes. In the 1800s, Natchez was home to the largest number of millionaires in the U.S. Natchez became a center of culture and wealth for the east coast elite. Rich in history and southern hospitality, Natchez has a lot to offer travelers.
Twice yearly, Natchez hosts pilgrimage tours of the town’s antebellum homes. It is the primary fundraiser for the garden clubs that maintain several of the homes. The Pilgrimage Garden Club began in 1936 and maintains both Stanton Hall and Longwood. The Natchez Garden club oversees Ellicott’s Hill and Magnolia Hall. The homes survived the Civil War because the Natchez surrendered to the North in 1862.
The quintessential antebellum home and the oldest in Natchez, Linden, was constructed in 1785. Jane E. Conner purchased the house in 1849 for herself and her nine children. Jeanette Feltus, the current owner, is a 6thgeneration descendent of the Conner-Feltus family.
Mrs. Feltus is a delight and provided me with an informative tour of the home.
The top-rated B&B features six rooms. Mrs. Feltus serves as a charming hostess for guests. Linden is known for its front doorway because It served as the inspiration for the front door at Tara in Gone With the Wind. Mrs. Feltus, 88, explained the producers should have made the movie in Natchez since the town has many houses that survived the Civil War. Mrs. Feltus was also proud of her sizable collection of 1800s era furnishings. These included a plate warmer, a punkah over the dining room table for circulation, and a fine collection of Audubon paintings.
Linden hosts tours regularly, and it is well worth your time to experience this bygone era of gracious living. You might get a few extra stories out of your host as well.
Frederick Stanton, a cotton planter, built Stanton Hall in the 1850s as a replica of his Belfast home. Stanton Hall is an enormous and elegant home and was constructed on an entire city block in the heart of Natchez. Local artisans and craftsmen were primarily responsible for the construction of Stanton Hall. Unfortunately, Frederick Stanton died only a few months after moving in. His widow, Hulda, lived in the home until 1893. The house was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
Lavishly decorated, the home features Carrara marble fireplaces from Italy, matching bronze chandeliers, and floor to ceiling mirrors from France. Numerous furnishings are original to the Stanton family.
The home served as Mont Royal, the home of the Main family in the 1985 miniseries, North and South.
The rooms are massive, with 15-foot cypress doors and 17-foot ceilings. The 72 foot long galleries run the length of the house.
After Hulda died in 1893 and the Stanton College for Young Ladies was housed at Stanton until 1901. The house saw several owners before it was purchased in 1938 by the Pilgrimage Garden Club.
Longwood is the star attraction in the antebellum homes in Natchez. As the only eight-sided home in the United States, Longwood was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Designed by architect, Samuel Sloan, the ‘Oriental Villa’ was built for cotton planter, Frederick Nutt. The unique octagon-shaped home was to have six stories and 32 rooms.
Construction began in 1860, and in just 18 months, 200 on-site workmen and brick masons made and lay three-quarters of a million bricks to construct the home’s 25-inch wall structure. Three hundred thousand feet of cypress timber was used in the structure of the house. The millwork includes 122 capitals that decorate the exterior of the home. Sloan’s unique designs incorporated pocket shutters on the balconies.
With the Civil War onset, construction was mostly halted, except for Nutt and some local craftsmen. The Nutt family lived in the original nine rooms that were completed. The dining room table and punkah are massive.
Nutt died in 1864, and the home’s upper floors remain as it was at that time. Julia Nutt died in 1897, and the Nutt children remained in possession of the house until 1968. The home was donated to the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1970 by its last owner, a Texan by the name of Kelly McAdams.
The unfinished interior five stories house many artifacts from a bygone era.
Capping the stunning home is a Moorish Byzantine dome with a 24-foot finial rising 100 feet above the ground. The original finial fell around 1900 and is stored on the upper floors of the home.
Only have a short time in Natchez? This one of a kind home is not to be missed.
Guest House Inn
The Guest House’s original building was constructed in 1840 and has seen several iterations and owners until its renovation in 1902. The building became a hotel in 1981, and the present owners have run the property as a B&B since 2017.
The Guest House Inn’s location in downtown Natchez’s heart places it within walking distance to restaurants and events. In the small, attached restaurant, Mr. Henry prepares and serves a delicious first-class southern breakfast. The antiques that decorate the rooms and public rooms harken back to a more gentile time. The inn is a comfortable and welcoming space for guests to Natchez.
The Camp located alongside the Mississippi River serves up a broad menu of burgers, tacos, and other tasty fare. Unique and delicious craft beer is also served, and outdoor seating is available. It can be an active place on the weekends.
Natchez Coffee Company serves up much more than coffee. It is a go-to spot for locals. The menu is simple, yet the plates provide customers with generous portions of sandwiches, salads, and more. Service is first class and quick. Here you can drop in and eat or grab and go.
The Ruins of Windsor are located near Port Gibson, Mississippi. The 23 columns are all that remain of the largest 1860s mansion constructed in Mississippi. The house burned in 1890. This site has stood the test of time of a bygone era. The ruins were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Natchez is more than antebellum homes
Natchez is not just about antebellum homes but it is about community. As you stroll the bluff high above the Mississippi River and wander through the shops and churches of downtown, you will be greeted warmly and find something old and new. Natchez hosts many festivals and events throughout the year, so you are never at a loss for something to explore. My thanks to Visit Natchez for making everything possible.