Primping for pilgrims: Homeowners readying for Pilgrimage

Published 12:19 am Thursday, March 16, 2017

By Lyndy Berryhill

NATCHEZ — Despite a cold snap, Spring Pilgrimage officials are expecting a large crowd for the annual event that begins Saturday.

Pilgrimage continues through April 18 and features 23 privately owned antebellum houses that will be open for daily tours.

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Pilgrimage Garden Club President Regina Charboneau said Pilgrimage was promoted with more aggressive marketing this year and has already seen a bump in interest.

“We’ve already seen a lot of growth in interest,” Charboneau said. “That is really going to help.”

Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, the tour company that sells and markets Pilgrimage, has booked more than 80 groups.

Despite a shortage of azaleas — many of which bloomed earlier than normal this year— Charboneau said visitors could still expect a beautiful spring landscape in Natchez.

“They still have tulips and daffodils, and the dogwoods are blooming,” she said.

For Natchez native Kaiser Harriss and his wife, Ashley, this year’s Pilgrimage will be the first in which the couple will showcase their house.

The house — Brandon Hall — is no stranger to Pilgrimage. The couple just purchased the historic house and is excited to be involved in Pilgrimage.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s exciting too,” Kaiser Harriss said.

Harriss said he and his wife wanted to move back to Natchez from Houston and knew they wanted to keep Brandon Hall on the tour routes.

“Tourism is a very important part of the Natchez economy,” Harriss said. “I didn’t want to take that away.”

Tickets for the three-house tours are $45 per adult and $30 for children ages 6 to 18.

Tickets for Longwood, Stanton Hall and Rosalie are $20.

Single-house tour tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for children.

In addition to the regularly scheduled tours sponsored by Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, some houses, operated independently are open for daily tours with tickets available at those houses.

They include Dunleith Plantation and Monmouth Plantation in Natchez and Frogmore Plantation in nearby Louisiana.

Also in Natchez is Melrose, a palatial antebellum mansion with park-like grounds open daily as part of the Natchez National Historical Park.

Most of the homes on the regular tours are owned by members of the Pilgrimage and Natchez garden clubs. Auburn is owned by the City of Natchez and maintained by the Auburn Antebellum Home group.

Rosalie is owned and maintained by the Mississippi Daughters of the American Revolution.

The Natchez Garden Club owns and maintains Magnolia Hall and The House on Ellicott Hill. The Pilgrimage Garden Club owns and maintains Stanton Hall and Longwood.

In addition to house tours, Pilgrimage also features several entertainment events.

The annual Historic Natchez Tableaux living history program will be performed at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays starting Friday through April 15.

Adult tickets are $15. Youth tickets are $7. Tickets for the presidents’ box are $30 for adults and $12 for youth.

The Natchez Little Theatre will present “Southern Exposure” every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday throughout Pilgrimage.

Tickets are $15. For more information, visit

“Southern Road to Freedom,” A stirring tribute to the African-American experience in Natchez by the award winning Holy Family choir, will be performed at 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during Pilgrimage at Holy Family Catholic Church.

For more information about tickets and other events during Pilgrimage, visit

Tickets for events and house tours can be purchased at the NPT office inside the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.