About NatchezFrench colonizer Jean Baptiste le Moyne established Fort Rosalie in 1716 at the site of present-day Natchez (NATCH-ez). The town's heyday came in the 19th century, when cotton growing was a leading industry and Natchez was an important river port. Fortunes were made, and vast plantations with magnificent houses reflected the prosperity of the period. Many of these houses are open to the public during the spring and autumn Natchez Pilgrimage.
After the Civil War Natchez languished until the discovery of oil and the coming of industry. Approximately 500 antebellum houses and other buildings from the golden era survived; most are within an area bounded by Broadway, Washington, Union and High streets.
Other points of interest include the 1822 Greek Revival Trinity Episcopal Church, 305 S. Commerce St., which has two stained-glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Federal-style First Presbyterian Church at S. Pearl and State streets was built 1828-29. The Gothic Revival St. Mary's Catholic Church, 107 S. Union St., dates from 1841 and was the first cathedral built in Mississippi. North of the city via US 61 is the Natchez Trace Parkway .
Dunleith, 84 Homochitto St., is an 1856 Greek Revival mansion that contains 19th-century furnishings, French Zuber wallpaper and carpets made by V'soske of Puerto Rico. On the grounds of the 40-acre estate are a carriage house, dairy barn and poultry house. Tours are limited to bed-and-breakfast and restaurant guests; phone (601) 446-8500 or (800) 433-2445.
The area known as Natchez Under-the-Hill, on Silver Street overlooking the Mississippi River, was once a lair for gamblers, thieves and riverboat roughnecks. The settlement was built at the base of a steep slope, and caves were dug into the bluff to hide stolen goods. These hideaways caused landslides in the already erosion-prone area. Although eventually abandoned after a series of natural disasters, some of the original buildings have been restored.
Natchez is noted for its yearly pilgrimages: a chance to tour the homes and enjoy the area's unique culture. Antebellum houses are open for the Spring Pilgrimage, which is held from early March to early April. The Fall Pilgrimage takes place late Sept. through early Oct.
Spring Pilgrimage events include the Historic Natchez Tableaux, a performance given Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and the humorous “Southern Exposure,” a satire of the pilgrimage, on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Southern Road to Freedom, a musical history of the African American experience in Natchez, is presented Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. The American Indian Fair is another Spring Pilgrimage event. A carriage ride is a leisurely way to sightsee.
“The Grass Harp” by Truman Capote and the Voices of Hope Singers are included in the Fall Pilgrimage, which also features craft fairs and regional food and music. Other fall events are the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race and the Angels on the Bluff Cemetery Tour.
Both pilgrimages can be experienced as part of an organized tour program. To tour all of the houses, which can only be visited according to a specific schedule, 4 days are required for the Spring Pilgrimage and 3 days for the Fall Pilgrimage. Natchez Pilgrimage Tours provides information and tickets. Transportation for the spring and fall tours also is available at an additional cost. For more details phone (601) 446-6631 or (800) 647-6742.
Visitor Centers Natchez Visitors Bureau 640 S. Canal St. Natchez, MS 39120. Phone:(601)446-6345 or (800)647-6724
Self-guiding ToursA brochure that outlines a walking tour of historic sites and Antique Row on Franklin and Main streets is available at the visitors bureau.
Things to Do Auburn
GAMBLING ESTABLISHMENTS Magnolia Bluffs Casino
WINERIES Old South Winery
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1358 John A. Quitman Blvd. Natchez, MS 39120