Demolition to begin for Fort Rosalie site

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, December 4, 2013

NATCHEZ — After a delay forced by the government shutdown in October, contractors are expected to begin today demolishing dilapidated structures at Fort Rosalie.

Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins said she is relieved to see the start of the work, which is in preparation for the National Park Service to open the site to the public in 2016 for Fort Rosalie’s and Natchez’s 300th birthday.

Jenkins said the demolition of the structures along Canal Street has been a long time coming and said she appreciates the community’s patience.

“As a citizen of Natchez, I’m very aware of what an eyesore that property has been for several years, so I really am extremely relieved we’ll be able to start,” Jenkins said.

Crews will remove eight structures and concrete slabs from the site, Jenkins said, and should be finished in two weeks.

The only two structures that will remain on the park-owned land will be the Stietenroth House that served as the park’s first headquarters and the log cabin next to it constructed as part of the former Fort Rosalie tourist attraction, Jenkins said. Stabilization and restoration will soon be under way on those two historic buildings.

The French established Fort Rosalie, located on the bluff, in 1716. It became the nucleus of settlements from which the Mississippi Territory was founded.

NPS will begin in January creating a concept plan for Fort Rosalie for recreational and educational development.

This process will review existing park-planning documents and will include public meetings to give interested stakeholders an opportunity to provide input, Jenkins said.

The plan, Jenkins said, will look at all the different aspects of what the visitor experience will be like at Fort Rosalie, from parking to where the picnic area and other features will be located.

The opening of Fort Rosalie is scheduled to be near the dates of the Natchez Food and Wine Festival in 2016, and Mayor Butch Brown has said the festival might be expanded to Fort Rosalie, where period food and beverages would be served.