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Relive Days Gone By During the Natchez Spring or Fall Pilgrimage

Relive Days Gone By During the Natchez Spring or Fall Pilgrimage


By avatar  Stacy
Posted On 05/27/2019 17:16:21
Trip Date 04/11/2019  

Destinations | Camping | Mississippi | Historic Natchez | Touring Antebellum Homes in Natchez | Natchez Spring Pilgrimage | Fall Pilgrimage in Natchez | Brandon Hall | Choctaw Hall | Longwood | Melrose | Rosalie | Stanton Hall



We lucked out as our time in historic Natchez, Mississippi coincided with the 2019 Natchez Spring Pilgrimage. With over twenty antebellum homes open for touring during Pilgrimage, we chose six including museum homes Longwood, Rosalie and Stanton Hall.

If your plans include a visit to this historic city, there's even more to see if you can schedule your trip during either the Spring or Fall Pilgrimage in Natchez. You'll have the opportunity to tour the inside of homes like D'Evereux Hall and Brandon Hall which are not open year round for visitors. While there are plenty of lodging options in Natchez, for those who are either on a budget or prefer camping, you've got options as well.



Historic Natchez

First inhabited by its namesake the Natchez Indians, Natchez, Mississippi was founded by French settlers in 1716 and is the oldest city on the Mississippi River. As time marched on, settlers from additional European countries as well as African Americans joined the native Americans and French already in Natchez.

Near the end of the 18th century, the cotton gin was introduced and along came significant change. The African slaves in the area were instrumental in bringing cotton production to a never before seen level, thereby dramatically increasing the wealth of the growers. In many cases, this newly found wealth was used to build beautiful estates and other buildings.

What's different about the antebellum structures in Natchez is the large variety of styles. When designed and built, the architecture and furnishings were influenced by the heritage of each owner. Because of their different pasts, the individual homes were each unique and therefore Natchez as a whole, was quite different from other similar cities.



As Civil War damage to the city was less severe than in many others in the south, fortunately over 600 of these historic homes and other buildings are still standing today. In addition to the many 150+ year old structures, properties are filled with beautiful blooming gardens and often surrounded by tall moss-covered trees as old as the homes. As Natchez is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, you'll even find some awesome river views from some homes in the city.


Mississippi River View from Rosalie

Mississippi River View from Rosalie

Planning Your Spring or Fall Pilgrimage Tour

The city of Natchez is filled with two types of historic homes each with its unique architecture - "museum homes" and "private residences". While the museum homes welcome visitors for tours nearly every day of the year, many of the private homes do not. Some private homes operate as bed and breakfasts, others are available for special events and still others remain a residence just as originally built.



Twice each year, the city sponsors a Natchez Pilgrimage during which visitors have the opportunity to visit even more of the historic homes than during other times of the year. Many of the private homes not typically open daily for tours do offer limited tours during Pilgrimage. Spring Pilgrimage runs from mid-March trough mid-April and Fall Pilgrimage is scheduled annually in September and October. Tours of each of the available private homes were offered at $15.00 per person during Spring 2019 while museum homes were priced at $20.00.

In addition to the available home tours during the twice annual Pilgrimage, there are a variety of other events. From performances and re-enactments to balls, tributes, a cooking class with dinner and more, during 2019's Spring Pilgrimage there were options ranging from $15.00 to $100.00+ per person.



Started in 1932, Pilgrimage is very popular, and the city tends to be busier and more crowded than at other times. To avoid waiting in long lines for tickets, consider making your fist stop a visit to the Natchez Visitor Reception Center. In addition to ticket sales, the friendly staff can help you plan your time in the city along with making recommendations on which homes match your personal interests.

Grouped with one or two other homes into categories such as the Movies & Architecture Tour and the Architectural Transitions Tour, the private homes are open during Pilgrimage on a rotating basis. For ease, each tour category is color-coded. The five or six homes in each color category are open for tours every fourth day in either the morning or afternoon.

Morning tours in 2019 were available between 9:00 AM and 12:30 PM with afternoon tours offered from 1:30 PM - 5:00 PM. Most tours began on either the hour, half-hour or both and lasted from 30 minutes to one hour. No specific tour time reservations were required. If there is a particular home you want to tour, you'll need to plan accordingly to ensure your availability coincides with the tour dates and times for the specific property.



Read on for just a taste of what the Pilgrimage has to offer:

Brandon Hall

Included in the Spring 2019 Town and Country Tour, Brandon Hall is located at Mile Marker 8.5 on the Natchez Trace. Current owners Ashley and Kaiser Harriss live on the property and also run an onsite bed & breakfast with 5 bedrooms and two cottages. The former working plantation is also available for weddings, parties and special events. (It was actually Kaiser's parents all decked out in period attire who led us around the areas of the house available for touring.)


Entrance to Brandon Hall

Entrance to Brandon Hall

Rear Entry to Brandon Hall

Rear Entry to Brandon Hall

Grounds of Brandon Hall

Grounds of Brandon Hall

A three room brick house was built on the working cotton plantation between 1809 and 1820 by William Lock Chew who paid $7,000 for 798 acres of land at auction. The original structure still survives as the basement of the current house which was built about four feet above ground.

The property was sold to the owner of an adjoining tract of land, Nathaniel Hoggatt in 1833. It was his daughter and son-in-law (the son of Mississippi's first native born governor), Charlotte and Gerard Brandon III who later inherited the property and built the Greek Revival style Brandon Hall. After being passed down to two generations of family members, the house (completed in 1856) and land were again sold at auction due to loan default in 1914.



During the succeeding 70 years, portions of the acreage were sold off and ownership of the property changed hands nine times. In order to preserve the deteriorating home and remaining 40 acres, a major restoration and renovation project was undertaken between 1984 and 1987 after which the home again changed ownership a few more times.

The cosmetic restoration returned the home's exterior to its original look and feel, with significant updates being made inside as well. In addition to complying with modern electrical and plumbing standards, central air and heat was added. Among other things, more bathrooms and closets were constructed and two cottages were built making the home perfect for today's bed and breakfast.


Living Areas in Brandon Hall

Living Areas in Brandon Hall

Brandon Hall's Dining Room

Brandon Hall's Dining Room

Cape Buffalo from Stanley Defenthal's 1983 Hunt

Cape Buffalo from Stanley Defenthal's 1983 Hunt

Choctaw Hall

Choctaw Hall, located at 310 North Wall Street, was included in the Spring 2019 Collections Tour. Owners since early 2014, David Garner & Lee Glover offer year round tours of their four story home. In addition to the four bed & breakfast rooms available for reservations on the first floor, the home is also available for weddings and other events.


Entrance to Choctaw Hall

Entrance to Choctaw Hall

As the home was not open for touring during our days in Natchez, we only had the opportunity to see a small part of the beautifully landscaped grounds.


Grounds at Choctaw Hall

Grounds at Choctaw Hall

Originally built in about 1836, the traditional home blends Greek Revival and Federal styles. The eye-catching front and back double porches made us wish we had the opportunity to experience the home's inner beauty as well.


Back Entrance to Choctaw Hall

Back Entrance to Choctaw Hall

D'Evereux Hall

Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Coons of California recently purchased D'Evereux Hall, located at 160 D'Evereux Drive. The new owners personally led tours during the 2019 Spring Pilgrimage during which the home was included in the Natchez Stories Tour. In addition to meeting the owners, we learned about their already completed as well as upcoming plans for period restoration of the Greek Revival home.


D'Evereux

D'Evereux

Construction of the home which sat on 80 acres of land was completed in 1840 for William St. John and Anna Conner Elliot. D'Evereux Hall was named in honor of Mr. Elliot's uncle, General John D'Evereux, who served with Simon Bolivar.



In addition to growing cotton and Mr. Elliot's role as president of a company insuring cotton crops, the family's wealth came from the inheritances of Mrs. Elliot whose two previous spouses pre-deceased her before her 24th birthday. The home was reportedly visited by many national celebrities including their personal friend Henry Clay whose portrait hangs in the home.


Dining Room at D'Evereux

Dining Room at D'Evereux

A Bedroom at D'Evereux

A Bedroom at D'Evereux

Following Mr. Elliot's death, a portion of his estate was used to build a male orphanage which opened five years later in 1860. (The bell and plaque was moved to the home's garden in 1969 following the demolition of the orphanage.) Mrs. Elliot remained in the home until her death when ownership transferred to a favorite grandniece.


Bell and Plaque from Orphanage

Bell and Plaque from Orphanage

Manicured D'Evereux Grounds

Manicured D'Evereux Grounds

Multi-Seat Outhouse at D'Evereux

Multi-Seat Outhouse at D'Evereux

A schoolteacher from Chicago purchased the then dilapidated home in 1925. After a complete restoration, she lived in the home for the 20 years before her death in 1961. Per the instructions in her will, the home and land were sold to finance scholarships to her alma mater, the University of Chicago. At that time, the First Baptist Church of Natchez purchased most of the land while the home and a 7 acre tract of land was parceled off for a residence.



Longwood

Located at 140 Lower Woodville Road, Longwood is a museum home owned by the Pilgrimage Garden Club. The never finished home originally designed for Julia and Haller Nutt, Longwood was included in the 2019 Spring Movies and Architecture Tour.


Longwood

Longwood

Construction of the octagonal shaped home on a 90 acre tract of land began one year before the Civil War. Original plans for Longwood (displayed onsite) included 32 rooms, each with a balcony. A spiral staircase was to connect all floors and the sixth floor rotunda and dome was to have a star on the ceiling.


Looking up to the Longwood Rotunda

Looking up to the Longwood Rotunda

With the home's basement and exterior mostly complete, rooms were converted to bedrooms. The family of 10 moved in and and construction was terminated, never to be resumed. Although Mr. Nutt died just over a year after moving into the home, his wife lived in the finely furnished basement until her death in 1897. The home remained in the family until 1968.



The Austin, Texas based McAdams Foundation owned the property and all furnishings including tools and crates addressed to the family for a short time before deeding it to the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1970. Stipulations of the property transfer included a requirement that the upper floors can never be finished. Our guide, Miss Mabel, explained that the rationale was to preserve the workmanship from days gone by.


Original Nutt Family Items Stored in Longwood's Attic

Original Nutt Family Items Stored in Longwood's Attic

Miss Mabel

Miss Mabel

In addition to a guided tour of the home, visitors can walk the landscaped grounds which include a cemetery, detached kitchen, carriage house (the oldest surviving structure in the city), three-story servants' quarters and privy. Reservations for special events are also available at Longwood.


Longwood's Carriage House

Longwood's Carriage House

Melrose

Unlike all of the other homes, Melrose is an estate versus a plantation home. Located at 1 Melrose-Montebello Parkway, the museum home is currently owned by the National Park Service.


Melrose

Melrose

Back Entrance to Melrose

Back Entrance to Melrose

Built over an eight year time period by both free whites and enslaved blacks, Mary Louisa and John McMurran moved into the home sitting atop 132 acres of land in 1849. One of the main purposes for the Greek Revival style mansion was to display their wealth for all to see - both inside and out.

As many as 25 slaves who were summoned by a bell system throughout the home helped to run Melrose. Responsibilities included tending to their owners every need, ensuring that the property was always in tip-top condition and shooing flies away from the dining room by manually operating the punkah.


Dining Room in Melrose

Dining Room in Melrose

Melrose Living Room

Melrose Living Room

Bedroom in Melrose

Bedroom in Melrose

After the loss of their only two children to disease, they sold the home in 1865 to move in with Mrs. McMurran's parents. Purchasers Elizabeth and George Malin Davis and their descendants lived in Melrose until 1976. Tours of the mansion began during the first Pilgrimage in 1932. All future residents continued allowing tours until the property's 1990 acquisition by the National Park Service.



While self-guided tours of the grounds are free of charge, the fee for the hour long guided home tour is $10.00 (cash or check only; $5.00 for those with an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass). The grounds include the former kitchen and slaves' quarters (today's visitor center), cisterns, the formal garden, carriage house and more.


Visitor Center and Former Kitchen (1st floor) and Slaves' Quarters (2nd)

Visitor Center and Former Kitchen (1st floor) and Slaves' Quarters (2nd)

Our guide, Park Ranger Barney Schoby, did an awesome job of painting a picture of what life was like during this time period - both for slaves and for their owners.



Rosalie

Overlooking the Mississippi River, Fort Rosalie was built in 1716 just south of today's home currently owned by the Mississippi State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. The two story museum home Rosalie, located at 100 Orleans Street, is available year round for self-guided tours and can also be reserved for weddings.


Rosalie

Rosalie

Back Entrance to Rosalie

Back Entrance to Rosalie

A portion of that land was purchased by Peter Little in 1820 to build his future home which he also planned to name Rosalie. Due to his friendship with Jacob Lowe, ferryboat owner at Natchez, he promised to care for Lowe's daughter Eliza upon the death of both of her parents. Although he was 25 and she 14 at the time, he sent her off to school but not without marrying her first.

Surprisingly their love grew and they moved in to Rosalie together upon its 1823 completion. The two never had children, and after both had passed (she in 1853 and he three years later), the home was sold at auction as he had no will.



In 1857, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wilson purchased the home which later became the Natchez headquarters for the Union officers during the Civil War. Nine years later, their only child, adopted daughter Fannie, married Captain Stephen Rumble inside Rosalie. The home became theirs and also the home where all six of their children were born.

Two of their daughters, Annie and Rebecca, sold the home and furnishings (many original) to the DAR in 1938. Both continued to live in and give tours of the Federal style mansion and beautiful gardens with a view of the Mississippi River for another 20 years.


Garden at Rosalie

Garden at Rosalie

Rosalie's Gazebo Overlooking the Mississippi River

Rosalie's Gazebo Overlooking the Mississippi River

Bell from USS Mississippi III

Bell from USS Mississippi III

Stanton Hall

Originally named Belfast, the birthplace of the home's original owner, Stanton Hall is located at 401 High Street. The wealthy cotton planter and cotton commission broker Frederick Stanton purchased an entire city block in 1849. Construction began on the Greek Revival style mansion in 1857 and was completed just months before the owner's death in 1859.


Approaching Stanton Hall

Approaching Stanton Hall

Entrance to Stanton Hall

Entrance to Stanton Hall

No expense was spared in the building or furnishing of the residence which included pieces imported from both domestic and international locations. Mr. Stanton's wife, Hulda Helm, and descendants called the mansion home until 1894. During the Civil War, they even shared occupancy of the home with Union troops. Even after being freed, many of the former slaves reportedly continued to stay with Mrs. Stanton as she treated them like family.

The home acquired its current name in 1894 when it became the Stanton College for Young Ladies. Today's owner, the Pilgrimage Garden Club, purchased Stanton Hall in 1938. After significant restoration, they operated the home filled with many antiques found in the basement of garden club members as a bed & breakfast into the 1970s. The home is now available for touring year round and can also be reserved for events.



Today's furnishings include a combination of period antiques and original Stanton family pieces which have been returned through the years from family descendants. Surrounded by huge 100+ year old live oaks, tours of the museum home are offered daily. If you're lucky, your tour guide may be Jay who did an awesome job of bringing the mansion's history to life in an hour long tour.


Our Tour Guide, Jay

Our Tour Guide, Jay

There's Even More History in Natchez

While the price of touring the beautiful antebellum homes in Natchez can add up quickly, there are plenty of free and low cost attractions in the historical city as well. Check out our post titled Free (and Low Cost) Sightseeing in Natchez, Mississippi. You'll find plenty of ideas to fill your time exploring this charming southern city.

Antebellum Homes

Natchez is just one example of a city in the United States where you can see a piece of history by touring historic homes. Of the antebellum homes which you've had the opportunity to tour, which is your favorite, in what city is it located and what makes it your top choice?




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Relive Days Gone By During the Natchez Spring or Fall Pilgrimage






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Created On 05/25/2019 19:23:38  
Updated On 06/07/2019 19:34:29
Scheduled On 05/26/2019 14:16:21
Posted On 05/27/2019 17:16:21
Last Editor Stacy
Location  Natchez Visitor Center, Natchez, MS, United States
LinkId  NatchezSpringPilgrimage
StoryId  1558826618471





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