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Volunteers, city looking at renovations for Auburn

NATCHEZ — A group of volunteers and the City of Natchez hope to restore a historic structure that is only one of four existing in Mississippi.

Auburn Home President Clark Feiser said Auburn’s nonprofit management group and the city are joining forces to apply for a $351,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to completely restore the kitchen at the city-owned Auburn house.

The detached kitchen, built in 1830, has an upstairs that served as slave quarters, Feiser said.

“(MDAH) has recognized it has one of only four in the state of Mississippi that is still standing and hasn’t been torn down or fallen down, and we’re trying to keep ours from falling down,” he said.

Changes have been made to the structure since it was built, and Feiser said the goal of the restoration would be to bring to back to the 1830s.

“The enslaved people have a story to tell, too, but we really need the building to tell it properly,” Feiser said.

The City of Natchez agreed to provide $80,000 for the cost-match funds for the grant. The Auburn group was able to come up with $7,500, however, and lowered their request to the city to $72,5000.

If the kitchen is restored, Feiser said, it would become part of the tour at Auburn.

“We want to tell the story of not just the house, but also of the enslaved people who worked in the kitchen and how they lived,” he said.

Auburn, located on Duncan Avenue, was designed by Levi Weeks in 1812, the first building in Natchez to follow an architectural plan. Auburn was declared a national historic landmark in 1974 and a Mississippi landmark in 1984.