Foundation holds open house event

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 18, 2000

Two houses newly renovated by part-time Natchez residents were opened to the public Saturday evening. By 5 p.m., crowds had gathered at both houses — the Mallery-Swayze House on Commerce Street and the Barkdull House on Pearl Street — to witness the homes’ transformations for themselves. And judging from their comments, they approved.

&uot;It’s absolutely beautiful,&uot;&160;said Thelma Williams, her eyes taking in the newly renovated dining room of the Mallery-Swayze House. &uot;It’s been done in such good taste.&uot;

&uot;When I&160;was shopping for a house, I saw this one, and I can tell you this –&160;it’s unbelievable what they have done with it,&uot; said Barbara Field of Baton Rouge, a visitor at the Barkdull House who is also renovating a house in Natchez.

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The Historic Natchez Foundation held the open houses &uot;to do something nice for our members and to make people aware of how much our part-time residents contribute to the community,&uot;&160;said Mimi Miller, the foundation’s director of preservation and education.

The Barkdull House, which was built in 1903 or 1904, had become dilapidated due to age by the time Crowley, La., residents Bill and Kakie Hoffpauer bought it in November 1999.

Renovations were started in January and continued steadily until almost the day of the open house. Needed restorations included stripping the home’s original wood, repairing one of its exterior columns and restoring gas lighting fixtures.

&uot;It was a complete renovation,&uot;&160;Kakie Hoffpauer said.

The couple became interested in the house through their daughter, who is a real estate appraiser, &uot;and because my husband just loves old homes,&uot; she added.

Bill Henley, who has owned the 161-year-old Mallery-Swayze House with wife Bobbye since April 1999, shares that love of old homes. He got the idea for buying one from his sister-in-law, who recently bought an antebellum house in Crystal Springs.

&uot;Structurally, we were fortunate, but the interior walls needed work. The plaster inside was cracked, for one thing,&uot; said Bill Henley, a Jackson resident who is also a friend of the Hoffpauers.

The only substantial structural change made to that house was moving the kitchen wall three feet, he added. Renovations were started in May 1999 and finished almost a year later.

The open houses doubled as a kickoff for the Historic Natchez Foundation’s membership drive.

&uot;I’m astounded by the turnout, especially since it’s so rainy,&uot;&160;Miller said during the event. &uot;I’m impressed so many people came out to thank Natchez’s part-time residents for what they’ve done with these houses.&uot;

But Henley said the foundation actually deserves the bulk of the praise. &uot;We just want to thank them for putting this (event) on,&uot;&160;Henley said.