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Decade of preservation

ERIC J. SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Members of the Party for Preservation Committee are, from left, Nancy Hungerford, Donna Sessions, Cheryl Rinehart, Kathy Garber, Laura Godfrey, Kathie Blankenstein, Janet Sullivan and Loveta Byrne.

NATCHEZ — For 10 years the Natchez Garden Club has invited guests to sip cocktails, sample decadent hors d’oeuvres and mingle with statesmen in springtime at one of Natchez’s historic homes or sites.

A decade of preservation will be celebrated at the Natchez Garden Club’s annual Party for Preservation from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

A different venue for the party is chosen every year. This year the event will be at Brandon Hall, a bed and breakfast located off the Natchez Trace.

“The Garber family are very gracious to let us use Brandon Hall,” Janet Sullivan said. Sullivan is chairman of the Party for Preservation. “It’s considered a cocktail party, but there is plenty to dine on. It’s a good time. And right now the temperature is perfect for a sunset party.”

Sullivan said there are several elements to making the annual party a success.

“Spring is in bloom and everything is green,” Sullivan said. “Also, the Historic Natchez Tableaux and Spring Pilgrimage are winding down. It’s like a celebration of the end of pilgrimage and the beginning of spring.”

The purpose for the party is to benefit the restoration projects of the Preservation Society of Ellicott Hill, the nonprofit arm of the Natchez Garden Club that owns the club’s historic properties.

“It is costly to maintain older homes,” said Donna Sessions, treasurer of the Natchez Garden Club. “The funds raised go directly toward preservation.”

Sullivan concurred that the cost is high to maintain the homes owned by the nonprofit.

“Restoration of the properties is ongoing and expensive,” Sullivan said. “We do what we can privately, especially since funds and grants are not as available as they used to be.”

Historic properties owned by the Preservation Society of Ellicott Hill are Magnolia Hall, House on Ellicott Hill and the James Andrews House.

The club’s current project involves stabilizing the roof of Magnolia Hall. This is an example of the preservation the party supports.

“It is currently undergoing repairs to the roof, gutters and chimney that were causing interior damage to the home,” Sullivan said. “That is our active project. The funds raised go with a matching grant.”

Natchez Garden Club President Cheryl Rinehart said to have a benefit for so many years is a significant accomplishment.

“Moving the venue to different sites and homes has been a nice arrangement for our party,” Rinehart said. “Each year we have an exciting venue, and we are fortunate that people are willing to offer properties to host it.”

Kathie Blankenstein, chair of the Natchez Garden Club, extended an invitation to the community to come and enjoy the party while supporting preservation.

“It’s a beautiful event with beautiful food,” Blankenstein said. “The committee worked very hard to make it a success. This is an important benefit event for the preservation of historic homes.”

Osgood and Blaque Duo-Band will provide musical entertainment. Sullivan said the band will play a variety of music that will appeal to every taste.

Sullivan said because the garden club has hosted the party for 10 years, the party committee members have the execution of the event down to a science.

“It’s a lot of fun getting together and visiting, enjoying the cash bar and music in a festive environment,” Sullivan said. “The event itself has gotten to be a habit. The committee knows what we need to do so the party runs smoothly. People are very willing to participate, and the Natchez Garden Club members are helpful with the food, setup and cleanup. And in light of it being our 10th anniversary, we hope people will especially want to come and support the Party for Preservation.”

The Party for Preservation will be from 6 until 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $45 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance from the Natchez Garden Club, 601-443-9065 or Kimbrell Office Supply, 601-442-1494. Checks made out to the Preservation Society of Ellicott Hill are tax deductible. Dress is business casual.

To find Brandon Hall, take the Natchez Trace onramp toward Jackson from U.S. 61. Travel less than a mile, passing the Old Trace Exhibit. Brandon Hall Road will be the first road on the right.