By Marsha Mack Goberish
You never know what you might be walking into when you enter a Mississippi home.
If you close your eyes, you might see Confederate generals gathered around a freshly waxed dining table, surrounded by the finest of china, planning Civil War strategy. Or you might witness carpenters from the North, dropping their hammers and saws to go fight for the Union in the war that was just declared.
But there is another house, a very humble abode where, if you could turn back the hands of time, you might see the birth of one of the world’s most famous musicians.
No matter what historic structure you’re lucky enough to tour in Mississippi, you’ll find a fascinating story to thrill your ears and eyes.
For designated weeks in the spring and fall, groups can tour private homes during the Natchez Pilgrimages. But no matter when you visit, Stanton Hall is considered the most palatial home in Natchez.
“Built in 1857, the home was originally called Belfast,” said Sally Durkin, media liaison for the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It was owned by an Irish immigrant, and everything is on a grand scale, from the millwork to the fireplaces.”
Longwood, built in 1850, is another jewel, according to Durkin.
“When the Civil War was declared, the Northern laborers literally dropped their tools, picked up their rifles and jumped on their horses to fight for the Union army, never to return. Everything remains just as it was.”
Rosalie, a Federal-style home on a Mississippi River bluff, was once a Union army headquarters and home to a wealthy lumber mill owner.
“With original furniture, it is renowned for the Belter furniture carved out of rosewood,” said Durkin.
Melrose Plantation includes the main house, two additional abodes and several outbuildings, all significant for their French and African design.
“Melrose has a fascinating history beginning in 1742,” said Durkin. “Here, you learn about free people of color for four generations before the Civil War.”
Kristy Burns, executive director of the Corinth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, may be a little prejudiced about the Curlee House, a circa 1857 home that once served as headquarters for a number of Confederate generals.
“I had my wedding reception here,” she said. “It not only seeps with history, but the artwork is breathtaking. There is even a piano.”
This Greek Revival structure is the place where generals gave the order that resulted in the Battle of Shiloh. It features sidelights and transoms with full-length windows that have the original louvered blinds. The 16-foot ceilings feature elaborate plaster molding.
“The home was originally known as the Verandah House,” said Burns. “The verandah is the place you can envision women drinking sweet tea.”