NGC to host fundraising party for house upkeep

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NATCHEZ — Anyone who owns, lives in or works at one of Natchez’s many antebellum houses can testify to the expenses related to the upkeep of that house.

They will also tell you that, just like everything else, the costs are going up.

Things are no different at the properties owned and maintained by the Natchez Garden Club. So to help raise money for the long to-do list, club members are putting the final touches on their preparation for Party for Preservation set for 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at The Towers.

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The annual fundraiser, now in its eighth year, is the group’s largest moneymaker, event chairperson Janet Sullivan said.

“And this year hasn’t just been the usual maintenance expenses,” Sullivan said. “All the storms that have come through have caused additional costs for us.”

The money raised is used to maintain Magnolia Hall, The House on Ellicott’s Hill and Ellicott Hall.

Tickets for the event are $45 each and can be purchased at the door or reserved ahead of time. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Kimbrell Office Supply or at the Natchez Garden Club office from 9 to 2:30 through Thursday or by calling the office at 601-443-9065 or Kitty Bray at 601-442-8242.

The “Springtime at the Towers” themed evening will include music by First Class, appetizers, a cash bar and a glimpse at some of Ginger Hyland’s, owner of The Towers, many collections.

“I’ve been a collector for over 30 years,” Hyland said.

Hyland said partygoers will get a chance to see her antique purse collection that includes over 350 beaded purses as well as her collection of antique tiaras that includes over 100 headpieces. The gardens are also adorned with 24 life-sized bronzed wildlife sculptures.

“I think the renovation work that has been done here has been fantastic,” Hyland said. “And we love to share this property with the community.”

Hyland said partygoers will also see the Phantom of the Opera room that houses props from the 2004 movie.

NGC president Cheryl Morace said excitement about the party has grown every year and, with it being hosted by The Towers, she expects nothing different this year.

“Each year we try to do something to keep the excitement up,” she said. “Having it here, with the beautiful setting, just illustrates Natchez in the spring to me.”

And while the usual party happenings are enough to attract a large crowd, Morace said this year’s Party for Preservation has an extra special guest — Natchez native John Grady Burns.

Burns, a reknowned floral designer based in Atlanta, has worked at the White House; the Blair House, home of the vice president; the Ritz Carlton Atlanta and for the Atlanta Symphony. He has also won regional awards for his designs and been featured in national floral and design publications.

Burns will be signing copies of his new book “Personally Yours” at the party. “Personally Yours” contains photographs and descriptions floral designs for wedding, parties and events created by Burns.

Copies of the book will also be for sale at the party.

Sullivan said that while the party is a good excuse to be with friends and have a good time, the purpose is larger than that. She said a successful party is a plus for her organization and the entire city.

“All of our antebellum properties are an asset to the city and bring people in to the city,” Sullivan said. “To keep people coming, it is important that these properties be properly maintained.

“That is important for all of Natchez.”