Melrose renovations slated to be done next summer

Published 12:04 am Monday, October 3, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Terry Wallace of Tyler, Texas, walks past the construction Saturday afternoon at Melrose in Natchez. The house is open for tours, but is undergoing renovations.

NATCHEZ — Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins said she thought two years ago, Melrose would be just a simple paint job.

That simple job has turned into more than a $1 million project that may finally be in the homestretch.

Jenkins said National Park Service is waiting to get one more contract in place before it moves forward with the final phase of structural repairs so painting can begin in the spring.

She said the repairs, which should start in the next few weeks, include replacing structural beams in the attic, correcting column capitals that are crumbling and bracing a leaning chimney.

Jenkins said the most difficult part of the project is that the park had no idea the extent of the damages.

“The more we opened up, the more we found that needed correcting,” she said.

Jenkins said there was extensive water damage in the house

Jenkins said the project has been a hardship on the park because it has been so expensive.

“We’ve really had to cut back on park operations to keep this ongoing restoration work going,” she said.”

Jenkins said all work on the house should be finished next summer. She said the park is trying to ensure the Melrose renovations are a lasting project.

“Our goal is keeping it stable so it will not be an issue for the next 50 years,” Jenkins said.