Society gets grant for house

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 27, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; One of the state’s oldest structures will get a new facelift with the help of a newly announced grant award.

The Preservation Society of Ellicott Hill has received a $150,000 Community Heritage Grant from the state Department of Archives and History to renovate the House on Ellicott Hill.

Renovations will include reroofing; masonry, stucco, siding, drainage, electrical and plumbing work; repainting; plaster and other interior repairs; and installation of heating and cooling systems.

Email newsletter signup

The state and national historic landmark, which is a little more than 200 years old, &uot;is one of the oldest houses in Mississippi,&uot; society Chairperson Nancy Williams said of the Canal Street house. The house is now used as a house museum of the period from 1800 to 1830.

&uot;It was the first restoration by a civic organization (in Natchez), Š and it basically started the tourism industry here,&uot; Williams said.

Without the grant, she said, &uot;we couldn’t have done any (restoration). And once these houses start to deteriorate, it happens at a fast rate.&uot;

To use the money, society members must first attend an Archives and History historic preservation conference in early February.

But with the help of a $37,500 local match, which the society hopes to gather through a fund-raising campaign, the work should start as soon as possible after that conference, Williams said.

A walk around the property shows shingles missing from the roof and, inside the structure, plaster cracks and peeling door panels and paint. There is also some moisture damage and some rotted baseboards in addition to an obsolete electrical system.

Over the years, the society has done repair and renovation work where it can, &uot;but it’s been piecemeal&uot; as funds were available, said Connie Robinette, project coordinator for the society.

Under the terms of the grant, the state money has to be used &045; and therefore, the project completed &045; by Dec. 1, 2005.

But the society hopes the work will be complete by the Natchez Garden Club’s 75th anniversary in 2004, said club President Anne MacNeil.

The club, which is separate from the preservation society, restored the House on Ellicott Hill in the mid-1930s and still includes the house among its properties.

The property on which the house stands was bought by planter James Moore in 1797, with the house built soon after.

The house was built on a Spanish town plan, making it the only remaining example of such a structure in Natchez, according to information submitted with the grant.

Since its construction, the house served various uses, including periods as a coffeehouse and a doctor’s office. It was used to house cotton mill workers before the Natchez Garden Club bought and restored it in the 1930s.