Auburn club proud of antique show

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 14, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; The return of the Natchez Antique Show and Sale in 2005 was memorable for Dottie McGehee, member of the Auburn Garden Club and an active volunteer at the historic city-owned house Auburn.

She looks forward to the show and sale that begins today with the preview party at 7 p.m.

Natchez Convention Center staff, sponsors of the sale, called last year to ask McGehee and other club members to host a party at Auburn for the antiques vendors in town for the event.

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&8220;We offered them the opportunity because they are a city-owned property,&8221; said Walter Tipton, Natchez director of tourism. &8220;We paid a minimal fee to them to host it.&8221;

McGehee said she and other Auburn hostesses were impressed with the vendors who attended. She remembers one in particular, however.

&8220;A dear man who had just lost his wife kept insisting that he give a donation to the club,&8221; she said. &8220;I kept telling him that was not necessary. He told me to come by his booth the next day.&8221;

As a friendly gesture, she did go by his booth the next day, McGehee said. &8220;He presented me with a $1,000 donation for Auburn.&8221;

She was stunned. What does that kind of donation mean to the Auburn Garden Club? &8220;It&8217;s like manna from heaven,&8221; she said. &8220;We are strictly a volunteer group.&8221;

All proceeds from house tour tickets go back into the upkeep of the house. &8220;The city gets 25 percent of what we take in to provide the exterior maintenance, and the rest goes to interior upkeep,&8221; McGehee said.

Since Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent decline in tourism &8212; including the loss for many months of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company boats stopping regularly &8212; the club has reduced the number of hours the house is open.

&8220;We are 100 percent responsible for all the utilities,&8221; she said. The house now is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

&8220;We are a determined bunch, but we&8217;re down to about 15 ladies,&8221; she said. &8220;The people who work here are passionate about this house.&8221;