Visit historic home this Christmas

Published 12:05 am Sunday, December 7, 2014

The members of Auburn Antebellum Home will be hosting our eighth annual Christmas Open House on from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14 with free tours, 1812 era baked goods by Terri DeShong from Pennsylvania, and music by Burnley Cook.

I am sure that many of Natchez residents have not been in Auburn in many years, if ever. Now would be a great time during the holiday season to visit and enjoy Auburn.

Come join us on Dec. 14, and bring your camera because photography is welcome.

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Auburn was built by Levi Weeks for attorney Lyman Harding, who had move to Natchez from Boston and was completed in 1812.

It was the first mansion to be built in Natchez. Weeks wrote to his friend that “this is the first house in the territory on which was ever attempted any of the orders of architecture.”

Harding died in 1820 and the second owner of the house was Dr. Stephen A. Duncan, who had moved to Natchez from Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Catherine, moved into Auburn around 1821 and lived there until 1863, when they left Auburn by a Union gunboat which conveyed them north and eventually to New York City. Duncan died in New York in 1867.

Stephen Duncan Jr. elected to stay at Auburn and lived off and on there until his death in 1910. His heirs decided to donate Auburn, all the furnishings, and 210 acres to the City of Natchez with the stipulation that the land would be made into a public park in memory of the Duncans, thus we have Duncan Park.

The second stipulation was that the house and land remain together. Because of this requirement, the city decided to sell all the furnishings, thinking the house would be easier to take care of if it were empty.

The city made an apartment upstairs for the caretaker of the park and his family to live, but downstairs remained virtually empty and became a playhouse for children of the city. In 1972, The Town and Country Garden Club (later to be named the Auburn Garden Club) set up a lease with the City to open the house for tours on a daily basis and operated a Bed and Breakfast around 20 years to earn money to furnish Auburn with period furniture.

Over the years, a few of the Duncan original pieces of furniture and fixtures have been returned to Auburn. We would be very interested in acquiring more.

In 2009, the members of the Auburn Garden Club petitioned the city and the state for a name change and new bylaws. The Auburn Antebellum Home is the new name with a focus on Auburn preservation.

We are a small group of male and female volunteers who still lease the house from the city and manage it. If anyone wishes to join our group, please contact Auburn at 601-442-5981, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Our current project is to restore the detached kitchen with servant’s quarters on the second floor.

This building (ca. 1830) has been identified by Mississippi Archives and History as one of only four such structures still standing in Mississippi.

There is much black history connected with this building and we wish to tell the story, especially of George Davis, a house servant who stayed at Auburn after he was freed.

Auburn Antebellum Home is a 501c3 for federal income tax purposes and donations for our restoration purposes will be appreciated.

A receipt will be provided upon request.

Auburn doesn’t receive any tax money so we operate on only tourist dollars and donations.


J. Clark Feiser is president of Auburn Antebellum Home.