Deck the shelves: Library hosts annual tour of homes Dec. 4

Published 12:05 am Sunday, November 20, 2016

Editor’s note: The following story printed in Sunday’s style section omitted one of the houses on the Library Tour of Homes and incorrectly listed the number of houses that can be toured with the purchase of a ticket. The information has been corrected below. We regret the errors and omission and are happy to set the record straight. 

NATCHEZ — A handful of local homeowners are decking their halls to help the library raise money.

The annual Library Tour of Homes showcases private residences in Natchez decked out for Christmas and not typically open to the public for tours.

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The event this year is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4.

The tour is sponsored by the Friends of the Library, the volunteer fundraising arm of the Armstrong Library.

“The tour is our main fundraiser,” Friends of the Library President Maria Bowser said.

The library is owned by the City of Natchez, which generally covers maintenance and infrastructure expenses.

The library hosts fundraisers, such as the tour of homes, to fund youth programs and purchase materials and others items for the library.

“City government provides the budget, but it is really bare bones in this economy,” Bowser said. “A good example of what we do is to supply matching funds for grants. The old micro-film system (was) broken and outdated. We matched the grant, and now the library has a state-of-the-art digital microfilm system. That is a must for people doing research and genealogy.”

The Friends of the Library also renovated the Community Room with audio and video equipment, and it is widely used by community groups for meetings, Bowser said.

Library supporter Jackie Wild and her husband, Joe, are opening the doors of their home for the library for the first time this year.

Wild is a regular library patron, and says the library is a staple of the local community.

“The library is extremely important, especially in its support of education in Natchez,” Wild said. “We are very much looking forward to helping the library and Natchez. I moved here 15 years ago, and I love Natchez, and anything we can do to help Natchez and its growth, we look forward to.”

On tour this year are the homes of:

  •  Ann and Dempse McMullen, at 39 Homochitto Street, will showcase their collection of vintage Christmas ornaments, including Belsnickle Santa figures from Germany dating from the 1870’s. Other collections include Blue China, baskets, early clay pipes, and period antiques. The McMullens purchased the home in 1971 and have done careful restoration.
  • Jackie and Joe Wild, who have renovated the 1831 Magnolia Cottage, located at 35 Homochitto St., into a bed-and-breakfast. While saving the architectural integrity of the home, they fulfilled their dream to own an antebellum house. The Wilds decorate with ornaments received from Jackie’s grandmother, aunts, mother and mother-in-law. The cottage is decorated as it would have been in the 1800s.  There are remnants of a diary in the basement.
  • Katharine Warren Garner, a Natchez native and member of the Natchez High School Class of 1961. Garner returned home several years ago and purchased the house at 310 South Union St..  She is an artist and her home features much of her original artwork, as well as her many collections. The house is part of the Natchez-On-Top-of-the-Hill district on the National Register,  locally known as the Natchez Historic District. The house was built circa 1886.
  • Dr. Randy and Ann Tillman. Glen Auburn, once known as the Christian Schwartz House, located at 300 South Commerce St., is a fine example of the Second Empire style and is symbolic of the rise of the merchant class in the 1870s. Following the death of Christian and his widow, well-known Natchezians, including the Moses and Jones families, owned the property. Buzz Harper changed the name to Glen Auburn and operated an antique store there.  He sold it to the brother of actor George Hamilton in 1978. After a period of neglect, Dr. and Mrs. Richard Boyer purchased it and began restoration. When the Tillmans acquired the home, they continued to make improvements to restore the mansion to its original glory.

Tickets are $15 for the tour of all four houses and may be purchased in advance at the library or Natchez Pilgrimage Tours in the Natchez Visitor Reception Center and at any home on the day of the tour.

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