Bank expected to take over Monmouth

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NATCHEZ — United Mississippi Bank is expected to assume ownership of historic Monmouth today in foreclosure proceedings.

Warren Reuther, president of New Orleans Hotel Consultants, said his company has met with bank representatives about the possibility of managing Monmouth. Reuther said the bank intends to do everything they can to keep Monmouth open because of the vital role the property has played in Natchez’s tourism industry.

“There is no doubt Monmouth is one of the main attractions as far as (bed and breakfasts) in Natchez,” he said. “It is one of the mainstays of the city.”

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Historic Natchez Foundation Executive Director Mimi Miller said Monmouth is one of only 10 houses in Natchez that are national historic landmarks, which she said is more significant than just being listed on National Register of Historic Places.

“National historic landmarks are nationally significant historical properties,” she said. “National registry properties have local or state significance.”

Miller said Monmouth is nationally significant because of its association with its more prominent occupant, John A. Quitman. Quitman was a hero in the Mexican-American War, governor of Mississippi and a United States congressman.

Miller said Monmouth also has a significant collection of 19th century furnishings, some of which belonged to the Quitman family.

Ron and Lani Riches have owned Monmouth for approximately 35 years. Miller said Ron ensured the preservation of the property when he had it designated a Mississippi landmark in 1986.

Miller said she is not concerned about the preservation of the house because the Mississippi Department of Archives and History must approve any changes to the property or houses associated with any state landmark.

Miller said the Riches have been an asset to the Natchez community as the owners of Monmouth, and she said she hopes they will remain part-time residents.

“They were always interested in supporting the community and its causes,” she said. “Many non-profits benefited from their generosity. They were strong preservationists, supporters of the music festival and will be greatly missed.”

Reuther said he believes the Riches did a great job at Monmouth.

“Everything they have done has complimented the city of Natchez, and the bank would like to maintain that by keeping it open,” he said.

Once the foreclosure is final, Reuther said he should know whether or not his company will take over the property. The company also currently manages the Natchez Grand Hotel and the Natchez Convention Center though a contract with the city.

Reuther said his company has also met with the staff of Monmouth and is hoping to keep all of the current employees at the property.

“We would like to keep all of the jobs,” Reuther said. “They have such a great staff, and our objective is to keep everybody.”

When asked Monday about leaving Monmouth, Lani Riches said she would talk further about the matter at a later date. She said she was too busy Monday to comment on the situation.