Auburn hosts open house to celebrate 200th anniversary

Published 12:01 am Monday, December 10, 2012

Volunteer Leigh Delaughter, right center, explains some artifacts to Cynthia Davis Sunday afternoon at the Auburn open house. Davis, a resident of Oxford, decided to stay an extra day in Natchez to attend the event. (Julia Nagy \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The members of Auburn Antebellum Home opened its doors Sunday to give visitors a peek into the past and a glance into the future.

Every year the historic preservation group that operates the city-owned property has an open house to show the public the property. Because this year marks the 200th anniversary of Auburn’s construction, the men and women who are involved with the group greeted guests in period appropriate attire for 1812 and served refreshments that would have been served at Christmas at that time.

And while members wanted to give the community a glance at what life would have been like at Auburn when it was built, they also had on display line drawings of plans for future restoration at the property.

Gettysburg, Pa., resident Terri Deshong asks what type of cake Norma Gerace would like on Sunday afternoon. Deshong came down to bake for the event. (Julia Nagy \ The Natchez Democrat)

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Auburn Antebellum Home President Clark Feiser said those plans include the restoration of the house’s detached kitchen and servants’ quarters and the reconstruction of an elevated walkway from the kitchen to the upstairs of the residence.

Sunday, the kitchen building was also open for tours, though the servants’ quarters were still closed for safety reasons.

“The local people probably haven’t been into that kitchen in many years,” Feiser said.

The plans to restore the kitchen and servants quarters are in part aimed at telling the greater story of Auburn, which includes the story of George Davis, a slave who after emancipation stayed on in a paid capacity at the Auburn estate as an overseer. Feiser said the group has a letter from Davis to the Duncan family — the owners of the house at that time — about how operations at the house were going, and that eventually the group hopes to be able to display the letter in Davis’ quarters.

When the restoration of the servants’ quarters is complete and the elevated walkway is complete, Feiser said tours of Auburn would likely incorporate the walkway as the entrance to the main house’s upstairs.

“That way, visitors will get to experience the servants’ experience of working and entering the upstairs that way,” he said.

Right now, the group — which is a non-profit — is working to get grant funding for the restoration, but needs seed money for matching funds and for the work itself. Feiser said checks could be mailed to Auburn Antebellum Home, 400 Duncan Ave., Natchez, MS 39120.

More information can be found at