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Today is July 12, 2020

Natchez Spring Pilgrimage

March 14 - April 14

By Sandra M. Buckley

Natchez Spring Pilgrimage

D'Evereux Hall

As the oldest city along the Mississippi River, and also once home to more millionaires, respectively, than any other place in the country, Natchez remains a tourist hotspot — especially in spring. One reason is its exquisite 19th century architecture, which is unmatched anywhere in America today.

“There are over 1,000 buildings and structures listed on the National Registry of Historical Places, more per capita than any other city in United States,” said Linda Smith of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours. “Also, there are 26 National Historical Landmarks in Mississippi, half of which are in Natchez.” 

To both preserve and share the city’s unique history and charm, the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage Tour was created decades ago to celebrate its extravagant architecture, legacy and springtime splendor. A ticketed event, the tour draws in tens of thousands of visitors annually from across the state, country and world for an unforgettable experience. This year, it is held March 14 through April 14.

The first Spring Pilgrimage Tour took place in 1932. “Originally, it was scheduled to be a garden tour,” explained Smith. “However, just before the scheduled date, Natchez was hit with a freeze, killing most of the gardens. The group of ladies organizing the tour decided to put on their grandmothers’ hoopskirts from the attic and give tours of their homes. The attendees loved it so much, they asked to do it again the following year! This group of hardworking ladies helped Natchez to flourish during the Great Depression, and tourism today is still the main industry of Natchez.”

This year, 19 antebellum mansions will be open for the tour, complete with antique furnishings and décor, historic items of interest and much more. One is Longwood, the largest octagonal home in America. “Its story is a unique one, of both highs and lows,” Smith said. Another is Stanton Hall, which occupies one full block in Downtown Natchez and recently underwent a multi-million-dollar restoration. Then Richmond, considered one of the tour’s most unique homes, showcases the three most admired architectural styles of late 18th to mid-19th centuries. Another highlight is D’Evereux Hall, esteemed as one of America’s leading examples of Greek Revival architecture.

Not only are the homes on the tour beautiful, their respective gardens and landscapes are equally captivating. “Natchez has a unique form of flora unlike anywhere in Mississippi,” Smith noted. “Everything from formal courtyards in Downtown Natchez to informal gardens dating back over a hundred years at Elgin. Take a scenic drive down the Natchez Trace and see almost every native flora to this region, coming across the immaculate Brandon Hall, a columned mansion deep within the forested oaks and magnolias of Natchez.”

Each year, the tour is customized with new details. “Through research, we are constantly learning new stories to add to the narratives of our tours,” Smith shared. “Heritage has become very important to us, and we continue to learn more and evolve our tours.”

In addition to magnificent architecture, lush gardens and unforgettable historical accounts, the city is rich with culture and hospitality during the Spring Pilgrimage Tour dates. “Natchez is a really fun town,” Smith added. “Hospitality has been in the blood of Natcheziens since its founding in 1716. Many of our citizens have decided to call Natchez home after just one visit. We encourage everyone to come see this hospitality for themselves.”

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