Natchez, Mississippi celebrated its 300 year anniversary in 2016. Rich in historic preservation, Natchez is the oldest city on the Mississippi River and the southern terminus of the historic Natchez Trace, now a Scenic National Parkway which runs over 400 miles through three states.
Antebellum Homes, Historic Mansions & Structures
Natchez was fortunate to have a large number of its historic structures survive the great Civil War. Several Antebellum Homes are open for tours year-round and special Pilgrimage Tours are offered in the spring and fall. Maps for walking tours around town identify numerous other historic buildings, some open to the public for tours. Sprinkled among the historic buildings in the downtown historic district are arts and crafts studios, antique emporiums, specialty shops, and bars and taverns offering southern cuisine and blues music.
In addition to the Spring & Fall Pilgrimages of historic homes ( March and April, September & October), other annual Natchez events include a month long music festival (in May) and a Food & Wine festival in July.
Natchez National Historic Park
There are two National Park facilities in Natchez. One is the William Johnson House Museum and Visitor Center. William Johnson was a barber and prosperous business man who built this house in downtown Natchez in 1840. The park service has restored the building and furnished it with pre-Civil War furnishings similar to those used by the Johnson family. There are also interactive exhibits depicting the lives of Johnson, his family, and the era that he lived, gleaned from a diary that Johnson kept from 1835 to 1851. What makes this exhibit especially interesting is that Johnson was a free black man and he himself owned several slaves.
The second Natchez National Historical Park facility is located on the edge of town. The 80 acre park includes the former Melrose Plantation estate. The estate includes the main Mansion and numerous out-buildings including the kitchen, dairy, octagonal cistern houses, smoke house, privy, carriage house, barn, and the last remaining slave quarters in Natchez. Some think it is the most complete restoration of a southern plantation in Mississippi. Here’s an excellent article and photos of touring the Melrose Plantation.
Walking Tour Natchez Trails
Natchez has organized five walking trails covering interesting natural and historic points of interest. One trail runs along the bluff park promenade with scenic views of the Mississippi River; another traces through the downtown historic district. Plaques and kiosks located along the trails give background on the history of some of the more impressive structures. Walking the trails gave us some good exercise and we saw lots of beautifully restored antebellum mansions, smaller private historic register homes and other historic structures. During our stay in Natchez, we boondocked our RV in the parking lot of the Natchez Visitor Center and each day took a different walking tour.
Slide Show of the Bluff Trail
Slide Show of Historic Private Homes
- Natchez Visitor Center
- Natchez Walking Trails
- Natchez National Historical Park
- Natchez Trace Parkway – Introduction and History