Future in the past: New leaders take helm of Historic Natchez Foundation

Published 11:12 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2018


NATCHEZ — Carter Burns has been in his new position as executive director of the Historic Natchez Foundation for a little more than one month and he said the transition has been smooth even amid the bustle of renovations to the non-profit organization’s office.

Burns, a Natchez native, returned home this year after receiving a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Georgia. He began his role as executive director July 23, but his association with the Foundation dates back to high school and college, when he served internships at the HNF.

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For Burns, the new position was a natural fit.

“Natchez is home to me, and I really care about it,” he said. “This opportunity at the Foundation became available, and it was too great to pass up.”

As the Foundation’s new director, Burns said he plans to continue to expand the programs started by his predecessors, Ron and Mimi Miller, who were the first and second directors, respectively. Burns said he also wants to utilize social media to open new lines of communication and interest new generations in preservation.

“It’s not all about the past but about the future and the kind of community we’ll leave for future generations,” Burns said. “It’s about being proactive in protecting our historical resources. Natchez is a special, unique place, and I want to make sure it remains that way for generations to enjoy in the future.”

Founded in 1974, the HNF established funding for preserving historic properties in Natchez and the surrounding region. Significant milestones include preserving Memorial Hall, which is now a federal courthouse, and saving the Prentiss Club from demolition.

The Foundation provides legal, historic and architectural records for everyone from hobbyists to scholars. The Foundation can help owners of historic properties acquire tax incentives and grants. Also, the Foundation’s biggest fundraiser, the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race will be in its 33rd year this October.

As that grand event nears, two staff members are adjusting to new roles.

Mimi Miller, who will retire to a part-time role in January, said she looks forward to following Burns’ lead.

“I’m going to do whatever Carter Burns tells me to do,” Miller said. “We knew exactly what we were getting with this package and that’s not often the way it is.”

In July, Burns hired Chase Klugh to be the director of preservations. Klugh is a UGA classmate of Burns and holds a master’s degree in historic preservation, a bachelor’s in history and a minor in anthropology.

Klugh’s primary responsibilities are overseeing preservation projects, tax credits and providing consultation.

Given his great interest in architectural history, Klugh said Natchez is a great place to begin a career.

“I think I’m in the right place for that in terms of the history that is here in Natchez,” Klugh said. “I’m starting to fall in love with the place that is Natchez and everything it has to offer.”

A native of Commerce, Ga., Klugh is married to Bevin, who teaches art at Frazier Elementary School.

Finally, the Foundation’s office building on Commerce Street is still open for business as it receives a few changes of its own. The building, established in 1901 became the HNF office in 1990. Renovations will increase fire safety and allow a dedicated area for storing legal records, archives and donated collections.