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Art in casino to tell history of site

NATCHEZ — When the doors of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino open in December, patrons will be invited to take a step back in time.

Photographs of a Natchez of years past will hang on the walls inside the casino to give casino patrons a glance at the history of the city and of the casino site.

Among the pictures will be photographs of Learned’s Mill, a cypress sawmill that once sat on the same property. Louise Learned Peabody was so impressed by the casino’s design similarities to the sawmill her family owned that she has supplied old photographs of the mill to be used as art in the casino.

“I am just thrilled,” she said. “I would like all of Natchez to know about that mill that was integral to my family for so many years.”

The sawmill was founded by Andrew Brown in 1828 and operated in Natchez until 1962. It was then the oldest operating cypress sawmill in the South. The mill was located at the foot of what is now Learned’s Mill Road, where Brown also built Magnolia Vale.

Premier Gaming Group President Kevin Preston said using photos of Learned’s Mill and other sites in the casino is an effort to put a piece of the community back into Magnolia Bluffs Casino.

“Hopefully it will give people an idea of how it all started and will hopefully be able to provide a glimpse of the history of the site,” he said.

The photographs, Preston said, will be blown up and will hang in the dining area and some hallways, and the buffet will be called the Bandsaw Buffet as an acknowledgement to the old sawmill.

The 43,000-square-foot casino will have 601 slot machines, 12 table games, a center bar with 20 poker games, two restaurants and a player’s club.

An outdoor deck will wrap around the sides and back of the casino and will feature a seating area and a fire pit.

The opening date for the casino is scheduled for Dec. 21.

The casino will host an orientation and informational seminar for anyone interested in becoming a dealer at the casino Thursday at the Natchez Grand Hotel. The meeting will start at 1 p.m. in the Carolina Room.