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Ten historic homes ready for Fall Pilgrimage

When the chill of fall is in the air and a spooky blanket of fog settles on the Mississippi River, it must be time for the beautiful and some ghostly historic houses in Natchez to be open for Natchez Fall Pilgrimage tours.

Natchez Fall Pilgrimage began Saturday and lasts through Oct. 23.

After spring tours were abruptly canceled due to COVID-19, organizers said they feel fortunate to have houses open as safely as possible once again.

“We’re thrilled about the fact that we’re open,” said Eugenie Cates, vice president of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours and Pilgrimage Garden Club president.

“We plan to do our best to keep everyone safe. Everyone has some concern about COVID and wants to do the right thing and not put any homeowner, visitor or tour guide at risk. We’ve asked the homeowner to decide whether or not to open this year and participating groups have been posted. A lot of people in the drive market appear to be ready to come visit the homes.”

Organizers said 10 privately owned historical houses are on tour, including the famous octagonal shaped mansion, Longwood.

The house recently underwent an expensive restoration of the unfinished dome to repair leaks, waterproof and repaint the structure, Cates said.

“We’re pleased with the result,” she said. “We will continue to work on repainting the decorative molding around the exterior of the house.”

Cates said each of the houses on tour always have new elements added to them as they are constantly being restored and furnished.

The Towers, Oak Hill, J.N. Stone House, Lansdowne, Sweet Auburn, Magnolia Hall, the House on Ellicott Hill, Linden, Choctaw Hall and Glenfield are more of the privately owned houses that are open for tours exclusively during Pilgrimage.  Rosalie, Stanton Hall and Auburn  also are open daily as they are throughout the year.

Only the grounds are open at Melrose, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of these homes are worth a visit,” Cates said. “Even if you are local or have seen them before it might be worth it to you to go back and see them again. For instance, Stanton Hall was given a gift of a beautiful antique table that was original to the house and some new portraits. Each and every home has things happening. They’re organic, alive, growing and changing. If you’re in town and would like to go around and see some of these homes again you might be surprised to see how they’ve changed.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cates encouraged visitors to check natchezpilgrimage.com for the latest information regarding when tours and even some ghostly evening events are happening and to book their visit.

“I want to thank the city, the mayor, the homeowners and both the garden clubs. There are a lot of people working hard to make this event happen during a time when there is a lot of uncertainty,” she said.