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Christmas is a stroll away at annual library holiday tour

Peter Isler House
BRITTNEY LOHMILLER/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — The Peter Isler House is one of five houses on tour for this year’s Friends of the Library tour of homes.

The Friends of the Library have mapped out a trail of Christmas cheer in downtown Natchez for the annual Christmas Tour of Homes.

Friends of the Library President Maria Bowser said the houses on this year’s tour are within walking distance of each other.

“They’re all grouped close together and have interesting histories, so it’s going to be a great tour,” she said.

And if you’re looking for ideas to deck your halls for Christmas, all the houses on tour will be decorated for the holidays.

“It’s really an opportunity to be a looky-loo and see how other people decorate for Christmas,” Bowser said.

Aside from a good Sunday afternoon walk and a peek into historic homes not usually open to the public, Bowser said the tour is an important fundraiser for the Judge George Armstrong Library.

“This supports all of the programs of the library,” she said. “For a lot of people who have not been in the library since they were kids, they may have no idea what goes on there. But there are all kinds of programs for all ages … and great learning resources.

“It’s not your grandmother’s library anymore.”

The tour is from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m., Dec. 8. Tickets are $15 or $25 for two tickets. Tickets can be purchased at the library, the Natchez Visitor Reception Center or at the homes on the day of the tour.

The houses on tour are:

Holly Hedges, 214 State St. 

Holly Hedges
Holly Hedges

Holly Hedges, a Federal-style house, appears in John James Audubon’s 1822 landscape of Natchez as a simple, gabled roof cottage built close to the street. James Tooley’s 1835 Natchez landscape depicts the house as it looks today with its rear wing-topped by twin gabled roofs.

Edward Turner, a Natchez mayor and chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, acquired Holly Hedges in 1818.

He deeded Holly Hedges to his daughter Mary Louisa and her husband, John T. McMurran. The couple sold Holly Hedges when they moved into Melrose in 1848.

Holly Hedges is now the home of Alan Kochek.

Carkeet House, 308 Washington St. 

Carkeet House
Carkeet House

In 1992, John and Susan Hudson purchased the Carkeet House, home of the John Carkeet family for more a century.

John Carkeet was a member of a family of English-born craftsmen. His son, John, became a U.S. citizen in 1859 and later enlisted in the Confederate Natchez Rifles.

The younger John was the husband of four women between 1857 and his death in 1896. A plasterer, he also worked as an undertaker. His business was near the Natchez Drug Company, and he died in the drug company’s explosion.

His daughters, Katie and Rose, lived together most of their lives at 308 Washington St. Katie married much older Otis Ogden, who died in 1929. Rose never married and was a respected educator in Natchez until her death in 1969.

Peter Isler House, 700 State St.

The Peter Isler House has been home to many of Natchez’s most well-known residents.

Originally a Spanish land grant, the property was purchased in 1817 by Peter Isler, the official printer for the Mississippi Territory. In 1819, Joseph Quegles of Spain bought the property and townhouse and commissioned artist John James Audubon to teach his daughter music and drawing. Audubon lived in a dependency behind the house.

Upon Quegles’ death, his estate sold the home to Emilie Profilet, a native of France who had married Quegles’ daughter, Melanie. Owner of a prosperous jewelry business, Profilet entertained world-renowned celebrities, including Prince Murat, nephew of Napoleon, with whom he had served during the Napoleonic wars.

Other past owners of the Peter Isler House include Gerard Brandon, son of the first governor of Mississippi, photographer, Henry C. Norman, Judge William Martin of Montaigne and his wife, Elizabeth, of Stanton Hall and Aylette Conner Quinn of Linden and the widow of well-known Congressman Percy Quinn.

Today, the house is the home of Robin and Stephanie Punches.

Karlson/Walker House, 700 State St. 

Karson/Walker House
Karson/Walker House

The Karlson/Walker House is one of three near the corner of State and Rankin streets that were built around 1880 by Robert Dixon as rental properties.

The house changed from a home, to a boarding house in the 1940s and 1950s, then to the Hope Rescue Mission in the 1960s. It was in disrepair when Joe and Merrill Meng restored in the 1970s. Additional work was done to the house when Carol and Braxton Hobdy bought the home in 1984.

The Karlson/Walker House has been home to Keith Karlson and Al Walker since 2006.

“The Little Brick,” a shotgun house on South Rankin Street also owned by Karlson and Walker will be open on the tour. The house was once owned by the Daughters of the Confederacy and contains chandeliers from Dunleith and an 18th-century Neapolitan Presepio nativity scene.

Bailey House, 400 South Commerce St.  

Bailey House
Bailey House

The Bailey House, a Colonial Revival-style house, was built by the Jacobs family, a Jewish family influential in Natchez in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1877, Adolph Jacobs operated a dry goods business, a liquor business, and a cotton warehouse and later became the president of Adolph Jacobs and Son Banking Company. His son Albert C. Jacobs was owner of Providence Plantation, president of the Natchez Cotton and Merchants’ Exchange and a city alderman.

Adolph and Betty Jacobs moved to New Orleans after the boll weevil decimated the Natchez economy, and the house has changed ownership several times.

Today, the house is home to Dr. Jack and Linda Rodriquez and their four daughters.