Natchez, Mississippi

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Saturday, April 27, 2013

We had impeccable timing today but it was completely unplanned...

We arrived at the National Park Service restored house Melrose House just in time to join the 10 o'clock tour conducted by Ranger Melissa. The remarkable thing about this house is all the information about the building and furnishings of the mansion that the NPS has available to reconstruct for us the history the house tells.
A wealthy Pennsylvanian John McMurran built the house in 1849 to show off his good fortune in cotton on 5 plantations and his profitable law practice. It is considered a fine example of Greek Revival architecture and stands out as one of the finest homes in Natchez which at one time was home to 11 of the 17 millionaires in America.
After the Civil War the McMurrans were pretty much wiped out....the slaves who worked the cotton plantations were for the most part gone and his law practice had come to a stand still during the war. The house was sold with most of the original furnishings. Later owners of the house kept meticulous records of furnishings including furniture inventories, wallpaper and carpet samples, etc. so that when the house was sold to the National Park Service in 1990, the house and all the outbuildings came with an unusually complete history.


Our second stroke of good luck came as we arrived at Longwood House just in time for a tour there. This house was begun for another cotton king in Natchez in 1860 but the Civil War prompted the Northern craftsmen working on the house to go home in 1861. The house was never completed....the "basement" level was finished enough for the family to live there until 1897. So now you can tour the furnished lower level, then go up stairs to the unfinished area and imagine how grand the house would have been. It is the largest octagonal house in America....the "Oriental Villa" style of architecture. This house as well as all the others we have toured have special emphasis on architecture that will encourage ventilation of the house to deal with the heat of the Southern climate. For more on Longwood, visit this site with lots of pictures and info: http://www.newsouthernview.com/pages/nsv_ie_longwood.html
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