National Trust names Natchez to distinctive dozen

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; To city officials, Natchez’s latest honor isn’t just one more plaque to hang on the wall.

Instead, it’s free nationwide publicity they hope will attract many new visitors &045; and therefore, tourist dollars &045; to the area.

On Tuesday, the Washington, D.C.-based National Trust for Historic Preservation named Natchez as one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2003.

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&uot;Natchez represents a truly distinctive slice of America,&uot; Richard Moe, president of the National Trust, said Tuesday in announcing the organization’s fourth annual list.

&uot;That makes it an exciting alternative to the homogenization of many other vacation spots. It is my hope that more American cities and towns will follow Natchez’s lead in preserving their own spirit of place.&uot;

&uot;An honor like this is always welcome,&uot; said Natchez Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith. &uot;Any time we get recognition to spur more people to come visit us, it’s a good thing &045; and hopefully, that’s what this will do.&uot;

That was David Preziosi’s thought when he nominated Natchez for the honor last fall.

To publicize its list each year, the National Trust launches a nationwide advertising campaign and features the winners in upcoming issue of its preservation magazine and on the travel portion of the trust’s Web site.

&uot;It’s a great way to let people know about these different small communities they might not know about,&uot; said Preziosi, former Natchez city planner and current executive director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

&uot;It’s also a great way for Natchez to get a lot of free publicity out about its tourism industry.&uot;

According to a statement released Tuesday by the National Trust, Natchez was chosen on the basis of many factors, including:

4Its architecture, &uot;a treasure trove of stately mansions, plus a diverse array of other buildings in styles from grand Greek Revival to simple shotgun.&uot;

4A variety of big events held throughout the year, including the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, Mardi Gras parades, the Natchez Opera Festival and spring and fall Pilgrimages to historic houses.

4Natchez Under-the-Hill, once Natchez’s cotton-shipping center.

4The downtown area, with a mix of shops, restaurants, unique religious structures and the Museum of Afro-American History and Culture.

4Tours of the Natchez Indians’ ceremonial mounds and other Native American-related attractions.

&uot;A richly preserved antebellum town, Natchez is a feast for the eyes with a treasure trove of distinctive architectural styles, year-round festivals and diverse historic sites that celebrate the community’s African-American and Native-American heritage,&uot; Moe said in Tuesday’s statement.

Other areas named to this year’s list included: Burlington, Vt.; Coronado, Calif.; Edenton, N.C.; Galveston, Texas; Georgetown, Colo.; Jekyll Island, Ga.; Keene, N.H.; Mackinac Island, Mich.; New Harmony, Ind.; Portland, Maine; and Vancouver, Wash.

Communities had to meet a list of criteria, including well-managed growth, a commitment to historic preservation in a historical context, interesting and attractive architecture, diversity, family activities, a base of locally-owned small businesses and walkability.

For more information, visit the National Trust, the country’s largest private, nonprofit preservation organization, on the Web at