Continuing with our ‘drive by’ tour of some of Natchez’s many historic buildings…
This 2-story 13-bay yellow brick building is the Natchez City Hall. It was built in 1924 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the On-the-Top-of-the-Hill Historic District. Given all of the older and more striking historic buildings in this city, the main reason I took a photo of this one was those beautiful live oak trees…
This is the one and a half story Federal style John Baynton House (aka “Williamsburg”) and it’s located at 821 Main Street. The house was built in 1833 for a land speculator named John Baynton. It was subsequently purchased by the Junkin family. One of their descendants was John R. Junkin who served as the speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives in the 1970s.
St. Mary Basilica, formerly St. Mary's Cathedral, is a parish church in the Diocese of Jackson and a Minor basilica of the Catholic Church. This Gothic revival church was dedicated on December 25, 1843 and consecrated on September 19, 1886. It remained the cathedral for the diocese until 1977. It was designated a minor basilica on September 8, 1998 and dedicated as such on September 25, 1999.
There are 82 Catholic Churches in the USA that have been designated as a minor basilica. Research revealed that the reasons for the designation are long and complex as are explanations regarding special status in the church. Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_basilica for more information.
This is the Dixon building at 512-514 Main Street. It was constructed for Scotsman Robert Smith Dixon in 1866 and it was owned by the Dixon Family until 1975. FYI, it’s up for sale, listed by Natchez Realty. Website: www.natchezrealty.net.
After 40 years of being unused for the most part, the current owner has undertaken an extensive appropriate restoration. The ground floor is being finished as a commercial space and the second floor will include 3 apartments. One will be a luxury apartment of over 2,000 square feet opening onto the front balcony.
Trying to differentiate between the Brown-Barnett-Dixon’s Building at 511-515 Main Street and the Dixon Building across the street was challenging because the National Register of Historic Places shows this building at the other building's address.
Fortunately, the description of this ca. 1866 structure…a 2-story 7-bay stuccoed-brick building with fluted cast-iron Corinthian columns clearly identified which building was which. The National Register properly describes this building at this address but it’s listed as the Cole’s Building for reasons unknown. Whatever its name, it is a beauty!
I didn’t know that I’d taken a photo of both portions of this building until I got home and did some research. The Banker’s House that I’d included in a recent posting is actually the rear portion of this impressive bank building. They are both parts of an unusual combination building, housing both a bank premises and the principal banker's residence.
Built in 1833, the bank is a remarkably high-quality and well-preserved example of Greek revival architecture. From what I’ve been able to determine, the bank itself was used for many years by the First Church of Christ Scientist but it is currently unoccupied.
Dunleith is a 12 room antebellum mansion that was built ca 1855. It’s Mississippi's only surviving example of a plantation house with a fully encircling colonnade of Greek revival columns. This former home sits on 40 acres and the property includes several outbuildings including a carriage house, dairy barn, poultry house and a three story brick courtyard building that historically would have housed the kitchen, laundry and slave quarters.
One notable resident (actually a slave) from Dunleith, was John Roy Lynch. After the Civil War he would go on to become the first African-American Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Mississippi State Legislature and one of the first African-American U.S. Congressmen. He studied law, authored several articles and books, and would serve in several appointed political and military positions during a long career. After his death in Chicago 1939 at the age of 92, Lynch was buried with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
Dunleith is now a Historic Inn with 22 luxurious rooms. The Castle Restaurant is located in Dunleith’s original carriage house and stables. They were actually built in the 1790’s. This 18th century brick structure which resembles a castle at one time was home to upscale carriages and thoroughbred horses. To learn more, you can go to http://www.dunleith.com/index.cfm.
Factoid: The 1957 film, ‘Raintree County’ was partly filmed at Dunleith, as was a portion of the 1974 version of ‘Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn’ by Columbia Pictures, as well as an episode of ‘Promised Land’ for CBS television in 1998.
Auburn is an antebellum mansion that is located in Natchez’s Duncan Park. It was designed and constructed in 1812 for Lyman Harding, the first Attorney General of Mississippi. It was the first building to exhibit Greek revival design in the town. Its prominent two-story Greek portico served as a model for the subsequent architectural development of local mansions.
After Lyman Harding died in 1820, the building was bought by Dr. Stephen Duncan. Duncan later abandoned the building amid growing secession tensions just before the Civil War and the house was placed in the care of his descendants. The Duncan family sold the home and 222 acres to the city of Natchez in 1911. It now serves as a historic house museum in a public park. To learn more, go to http://www.auburnmuseum.org/.
This sweet looking home is called Pleasant Hill. This one-and-a-half story frame Greek revival residence on a raised basement was built ca. 1835. This home was originally built by John Henderson, a prosperous merchant, publisher of the local newspaper, and a founder of Natchez' First Presbyterian Church. The original home was built on property that is now the location of a well-known antebellum home…Magnolia Hall. During the 1850's Pleasant Hill was moved one block south on log rollers pulled by oxen teams, quite a feat indeed!
Today Pleasant Hill serves as a Bed and Breakfast offering 4 bedrooms, each with a private bath. To learn more, just go to http://www.natchezbedandbreakfast.com/.
This is Magnolia Hall which is also known as the Henderson-Britton House. It was built in 1858. Magnolia Hall was built by Thomas Henderson, a wealthy merchant, planter and cotton broker. This home sits on the property where Pleasant Hill (the previous home discussed above) had been moved from…
Magnolia Hall was also one of the last great mansions to have been built in Natchez before the outbreak of the Civil War. It did not escape that conflict as shelling by the Union gunboat Essex damaged the home. In fact, a cannonball landed in the kitchen. Thomas Henderson died in the home before the war ended and his ghost allegedly haunts the premises to this day. Check it out at http://www.ghostinmysuitcase.com/places/magnolia/index.htm.
The Natchez Garden Club has restored Magnolia Hall. Rooms on the main floor are filled with mid-nineteenth century antiques, while rooms on the upper floors contain a costume collection. Magnolia Hall is open for tours, and there is a gift shop. See http://www.natchezgardenclub.org/ for information.
Our last stop on this driving tour of Natchez is a bit more current than the previous buildings. This is the Eola Hotel at Main and Pearl Streets in downtown Natchez. This 7 story brick hotel was built in 1927.
This upscale hotel has apparently been closed for 3 plus years now. I found an article dated in December 2014 that stated that the building had been vacated and was ready for the new owner to take over. He was expected to turn about half of the building into upscale condominiums. He is also behind the addition of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino to the Natchez riverfront. To view photos showing the Eola Hotel’s former opulence, just go to https://www.yelp.com/biz/natchez-eola-hotel-natchez.
I hope that you enjoyed our tour… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.
Thanks for stopping by!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave