Sunday, September 7, 2014
Natchez by Day
Natchez adorns the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. It has more atebellum homes than any othe city in the United States--ove 150. In the 1800's this was the richest place in America, and cotton was king. You could grow it, pick it and ship it from the port in Natchez. Many of the "houses" in town were just that--"town houses." The large plantaton fields were outside of town, but to show off their wealth, the cotton barons built town houses.
Here are a few of the places we saw on Friday's carriage ride. The first home is the Glen Auburn House. This is a post-Civil War mansion built around 1875 and is considered "Mississippi's greatest Second Empire structure," named for architecture from the Second French Empire. The little step is in front of many of the antebellum homes and mansions. It was there for the ladies to step down from their carriages without showing their ankles. That was so inappropriate for the time. Many of the homes even have 2 staircases, like Nottoway, so gentlemen could enter from a separate side of the home to avoid seeing any female ankles.
This window was supposedly designed by Louis Tiffany, but after searching on the internet for a good hour, I was unable to find any information on it or that he did any windows in Natchez. So, maybe it was made by him and maybe not. And I've just wasted an hour. Personally, I don't this it even looks like his lamps, etc. but then I haven't studied his stained-glass work so perhaps I'm wrong. Perish the thought!
After Hurricane Katrina the MS Department of Transportation began bulldozing the dead tree damaged by the storm, much to the chagrin of residents. So the Biloxi Mayor intervened and contracted to have some the the live oak trunks turned into sculptures. A wood sculptor from Florida volunteed to create some for free as a service to the community. I don't know if this sculpture is one of his. Probably not, but I love the idea, as did whoever carved this little bird. Apparently many of these can be seen in New Orleans, so I'm going to have to look next time we go to NOLA.
Stanton Hall was built in 1857 by an Irish immigrant and cotton merchant, Frederick Stanton. It was the home of his dreams, built in Greek Revival style, in the heart of Natchez. It takes up an entire city block and cost over $83,00 before being furnished. Holy Cow! It was completed a few months before he died in 1859 and was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War.
Today it's a National Historic Landmark and furnished much as was originally intended. It also has the Carriage House Restaurant, nationally known for it's Southern cuisine and especially the fried chicken and baby biscuits. I was so looking forward to enjoying a meal after returning from Vicksburg. What a disappointment to get home and find that it's only open for lunch. Guess we'll have to go back to Natchez!
The other 2 homes are just some we saw while driving around the town. I love them even though they could use serious facelifts. But they're still unique and quaint.
We found something completey unexpected at the Historic Natchez City Cemetary. A study in wrought iron! Because the city is set about 300 feet above the Mississippi River there's not much chance of flooding, so the graves are underground. Many families, instead of having a huge vault to entomb everyone, must have purchased several plots in one area then encircle it with an iron fence and gate. Beautiful! Here a just a few of them.
Most of the ironwork is a good representation of what was being produced in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
I think we'll visit the Vicksburg experience tomorrow.