- Mississippi - by Tommy Ford
The coming of the cotton kingdom
early in the 19th century transformed Natchez into one of the
richest cities in America.
Vast fortunes were made based on cotton and slave labor. Massive
plantations arose in the surrounding area as well as across
the river in Louisiana.
our feature on Windsor Ruins, a plantation home that was
the largest in the South).
Many of the impressive dwellings, which
survive within the city of Natchez today, were the "town" homes of planters whose actual farming operations were located elsewhere.
This brief kingdom ended with the Civil War. Natchez itself was spared
the torch of the invading Union army by surrendering quickly without
a fight. Many mansions crumbled into ruin as the
Early in the 20th Century the ladies of Natchez
set out to preserve what remained. Their labor continues today with
spring and fall "pilgrimages," when many of the homes are
open for tours.
our visit we chose to stay at Dunleith, a magnificent Greek
Revival edifice surrounded by colonnaded galleries. Built in 1856
on the site of an earlier mansion, Dunleith is today operated as a
bed and breakfast, no longer functioning as a family home. Luxurious
rooms are available in the main house while others located in former
servants quarters are perhaps less palatial but no less comfortable.
Most of the rooms have gas fireplaces and
some have Jacuzzi tubs. Dunleith's unusual former carriage house has
been converted into a restaurant on the upper floor with a popular
tavern below. Both the meal and the service in the restaurant were
excellent. Our stay at Dunleith was very enjoyable
though for a history buff I must admit the conversion to a B&B
has stripped the estate of much of it's heritage. Furnishings in the
house are not original. Outlying structures have been converted into
The grounds are well landscaped, though the presence of a tractor
shed across the parking lot from the main house detracts somewhat
from the atmosphere. If you're looking for living history or cultural
exhibits you won't find them here. On the other hand, if it's a comfortable
night in elegant surroundings you seek then by all means consider
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