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First Timer's Guide to Attending the Natchez Spring or Fall Pilgrimage

First Timer's Guide to Attending the Natchez Spring or Fall Pilgrimage


avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 02/26/2020
Posted On 02/27/2020 16:30:00

Destinations | Mississippi | Historic Natchez | Antebellum Homes | Natchez Spring Pilgrimage | Brandon Hall | D'Evereux | Longwood | Rosalie | Stanton Hall



Planning a visit to the historic city of Natchez, Mississippi? There's even more to see and do if you can schedule your trip during either Fall or Spring Pilgrimage. The opportunity to tour the inside of the museum homes Longwood, Rosalie and Stanton Hall is available year round. It's homes like D'Evereux and Brandon Hall that make a visit during Pilgrimage so special. With over twenty antebellum homes open for touring during Pilgrimage, you can also see the insides of homes which are not open throughout the year to visitors. Read here to learn everything you need to know before heading to Historic Natchez.

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, African Americans and settlers from additional European countries 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 differing pasts, the individual homes were each unique making Natchez quite different from other similar cities.

Civil War damage to the city was less severe than in many other cities in the south, so 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 also find some awesome river views from many homes in the city.


Mississippi River View from Rosalie

Mississippi River View from Rosalie

What is Natchez Pilgrimage?

The city of Natchez is filled with two types of historic homes - "museum homes" and "private residences". All homes have unique architecture and furnishings and are located on well kept grounds with beautiful gardens. The museum homes actually welcome visitors for tours nearly every day of the year, however many of the private homes do not. Some operate as bed and breakfasts, others are available for special events and still others remain a residence just as originally built.

For more than 80 years, Natchez Pilgrimage Tours has offered visitors 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 for tours do offer limited tours during Pilgrimage. Most tours are led by knowledgeable guides dressed in period attire. Many of the guides are actually descendants of the home's original owners who share stories passed down through the generations.



Spring and Fall Pilgrimage in Natchez

Spring Pilgrimage runs from mid-March trough mid-April and Fall Pilgrimage is scheduled annually in September and October. During 2020, Pilgrimage dates are as follows:
  • Spring Pilgrimage begins on March 14 and ends on April 14, 2020 and
  • Fall Pilgrimage runs from September 26 through October 13, 2020.

Usually combined with one or two other homes into groupings such as the Movies & Architecture Tour and the Architectural Transitions Tour, the private homes are open during Pilgrimage on a rotating basis. For ease in planning, each home is also color-coded. The two or three private homes in each color category are open for tours every fourth day in either the morning or afternoon.

Morning tours in 2020 are available between 9:00 AM and 12:30 PM with afternoon tours offered from 1:30 PM - 5:00 PM. Most tours begin on either the hour, half-hour or both and last from 30 minutes to one hour. No specific tour time reservations are required. If there is a particular home you want to tour, make sure to plan accordingly to ensure your availability coincides with the tour dates and times for the specific property.



Schedule of 2020 Spring Pilgrimage Private Residence Tours

Here's a list of the private residences included in the 2020 Spring Pilgrimage along with their addresses, tour dates and times:

Architectural Transitions Tour

  • Morning tours on March 15, 19, 23, 27 & 31 and April 4, 8 and 12 will be offered of Airlie Plantation (9 Elm Street) in the "peach" collection.
  • Tours of Linden Plantation (1 Conner Circle) and Auburn Plantation (400 Duncan Avenue), both in the "pink" collection, will be offered in the mornings on March 16, 20, 24 & 28 and April 1, 5, 9 & 13.
  • In the "orange" collection, Elgin Plantation (1 Elgin Plantation Road) is open for touring on March 16, 20, 24 & 28 and April 1, 5, 9 & 13 in the afternoons.

Collections Tour

  • Both The Burn Mansion (712 North Union Street) and Choctaw Hall (310 North Wall Street) are included in the "red" collection. Tours of these two residences are available on March 17, 21, 25 & 29 and April 2, 6, 10 & 14 in the afternoons.


Grounds at Choctaw Hall

Grounds at Choctaw Hall

Decorative Arts Tour

  • Lansdowne Plantation (17 Marshall Road), in the "peach" collection, is open for touring on the mornings of March 15, 19, 23, 27 & 31 and April 4, 8 and 12.

Legacy Tour

  • Tours of The Gardens (35 Cemetary Road) and Green Leaves Mansion (303 S. Rankin Street at Washington Street), both in the "green" collection, are offered in the afternoons on March 14, 18, 22, 26 & 30 and April 3, 7 & 11.



Living History Tour

Movies and Architecture Tour

  • Both in the "purple" collection, Routhland Plantation (131 Winchester Road) and Elms Court (542 John R. Junkin Drive) are open for morning tours on March 14, 18, 22, 26 & 30 and April 3, 7 & 11.
  • Tours of Richmond Plantation (31 Government Fleet Road), in the "green" collection, are available during the afternoons on March 14, 18, 22, 26 & 30 and April 3, 7 & 11.



Natchez Stories Tour

  • In the "orange" collection, tours of D'Evereux (160 D'Evereux Drive) are available on the afternoons of March 16, 20, 24 & 28 and April 1, 5, 9 & 13.


D'Evereux

D'Evereux

Town and Country Tour

  • Pleasant Hill Mansion (310 South Pearl Street), Magnolia Hall (215 South Pearl Street at Washington Street) and Brandon Hall (73 Natchez Trace Parkway) are all in the "blue" collection. These three homes will be open for afternoon tours on March 15, 19, 23, 27 & 31 and April 4, 8 and 12.


Entrance to Brandon Hall

Entrance to Brandon Hall

Rear Entry to Brandon Hall

Rear Entry to Brandon Hall

Tickets for Spring and Fall Pilgrimage Tours and Other Events

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 at each home 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 remaining time in the city along with making recommendations on which homes match your personal interests. (Spring Pilgrimage tickets can also be purchased online with the payment of a convenience fee in addition to the ticket prices.)

Tours of the available private homes are offered at $20.00 per adult during Spring 2020 while museum homes are priced at $25.00. For those planning to tour Longwood, Rosalie and Stanton Hall, a discounted Three Museum Package is available. Priced at $60.00 per adult, the package saves $15.00 as compared to purchasing tickets for the three museum home tours individually. For those with at least three days available who are interested in touring 10 private homes, a discounted 3 Day Plantation and Mansions Tour Pass is also available. The three day ticket is priced at $150.00 per adult, a savings of $50.00 over individually priced tickets.

In addition to the available home tours during the twice annual Pilgrimage, there are a variety of additional Spring Events. From performances and reenactments to receptions, tributes and more, there are options ranging from $15.00 to $40.00 per adult.



For just a taste of what the Spring Pilgrimage has to offer, here's a fraction of what we saw and learned on our tours during the 2019 Spring Pilgrimage:

Brandon Hall Plantation

Current owners Ashley and Kaiser Harriss live at Brandon Hall Plantation and also run an onsite bed & breakfast. 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.)


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 in 1833 and later inherited by Charlotte and Gerard Brandon III who 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 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

D'Evereux

Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Coons of California had purchased D'Evereux just a short time before our tour. In addition to meeting the new owners who personally led tours, we learned about their already completed as well as upcoming plans for period restoration of the Greek Revival home.

Original construction of the home was finished in 1840 for William St. John and Anna Conner Elliot. Formerly called D'Evereux Hall, the home honored Mr. Elliott's uncle, General John D'Evereux.



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. Elliott. (Her 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 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 dilapidated home in 1925. After a complete restoration, she lived in the home for the 20 years before her 1961 death. Per 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 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 was originally designed for Julia and Haller Nutt.


Longwood

Longwood

Construction of the octagonal shaped home on a 90 acre tract of land began one year before the Civil War. Original plans (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 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 McAdams Foundation owned the property and all furnishings for a short time before deeding it to the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1970. Stipulations of the transfer included a requirement that the upper floors never be finished. Our guide, Miss Mabel, explained that the rationale was to preserve the workmanship from days gone bye.


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

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 the fort's land was purchased by Peter Little in 1820 to build his home which he would also name Rosalie. Due to his friendship with a local ferryboat owner, he promised to care for his 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 into the Federal style mansion Rosalie together upon its 1823 completion. The two never had children, and after both had passed away (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 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. After being freed, many of the former slaves reportedly continued to stay with Mrs. Stanton as she treated them like family.

The home acquired it's 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. Be sure to also read Free (and Low Cost) Sightseeing in Natchez, Mississippi to help you plan your visit. 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 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?







First Timer's Guide to Attending the Natchez Spring or Fall Pilgrimage




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