Support library and enjoy Christmas homes tour

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, December 4, 2019

No “Bah Humbugs” will be allowed at Friends of the Library Christmas Tour of Homes from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, when attendees will visit homes seldom open to the public.

Tickets are $20 each and may be purchased at any home on the day of the tour. Homes may be toured in any order. Credit cards may be used at GardenSong.

These historic homes tell rich, varied stories of Natchez, past and present.

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The Friends are very grateful to the gracious homeowners for sharing their homes during the holiday season.

The home of Paulette and Des Crain at 206 S. Martin Luther King St. was built in 1870 by Missouri Lawrence on property she had purchased in 1857 for $2,000.

It is one of the few grand houses built in the decade after the Civil War.

As the house changed hands, new owners made changes from the original Italianate. In 1918, the Henderson family added the columns. The Butts family bought it in 1937 and Lucius Butts lived there until his death in 1997 at age 100. Gayle and Michael Henry then purchased the house and undertook extensive renovations.

Since buying the house in 2018, the Crains have continued renovations and have become well-known for their beautiful holiday decorations.

Al Walker purchased the house at 606 State St. from Rena Jean and Bob Schmieg, who had undertaken major renovations. Bob did the architectural drawing and plans and, prior to his death in 2003, did much of the actual work.

Originally a much larger property, the front yard extended to Union and the back to Rankin.

Despite changes over the years, many of the original details remain.

Though dating is not confirmed, many features are original to the early construction and date circa 1796, including two mantels and plaster in the living room. The windows are original and the closet doors are old shutters found on the house.

Al will also open the historic “Little Brick” house at 111 S. Rankin.

GardenSong, 705 Washington St. owned by Dan Gibson, is a popular bed and breakfast. Drs. Robert and Bettina Barnes purchased the house in 1960 from the family of original owner, Dr. Abbot. While digging in the yard, their daughters discovered original formal gardens, long covered over and forgotten.

A careful excavation resulted in one of the oldest formal gardens in Natchez. One of America’s earliest “pre-fab” houses, it was built of pre-cut and pre-marked materials hand-crafted in Cincinnati and floated down the river in 1836.

It is one of four on the north side of Washington built by French developer, E.P. Fourniquet, who also built Green Leaves on the other side of the street. (Guests might enjoy an impromptu concert from the talented owner.)

All proceeds support library programs. Get into the holiday spirit and help a good cause. For additional information visit

Maria Bowser is president of Friends of the Library.