‘Diseased, dangerous’ trees come down at Banker’s House

Published 6:38 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2021

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NATCHEZ — The owner of The Banker’s House — Jeff Bond — is asking residents who are upset about the recent downing of trees at the house to give him some time and trust.

“It’s going to be really nice. You’re going to have to trust me on that. We are going to have three gardens out there. We are adding electrical and are going to have up lighting on the house. We will have fountains,” Bond said. “It will be a million times better. This is one of those things you’re just going to have to trust me on.”

The old, large trees coming down have generated some negative comments on social media. Despite his plans for gardens and landscaping at the house, the trees were taken down because of their condition and the damage the roots of the trees were doing to the structure of the home and the brick and iron fence surrounding the historic property, he said.

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Pete Cantu, a Natchez contractor who worked for Bond on his renovation of the McClure House on North Union Street and is also working on The Banker’s House renovation, said the roots of the trees  — magnolia and pecan trees — were damaging the walls of the basement of the house and had broken a gas line on the property.

“The trees that were closest to the house were hollow in the middle and the trees in the front of the house were growing toward the basement and some had cracked the basement wall,” Cantu said.

He said the trees were misidentified on social media as black walnuts.

“They were not black walnuts. They were pecans,” Cantu said. “The recent storms were a little more of an issue. He just replaced the roof, and when the ice storm came through, those trees did a lot of damage. They fractured the gutters.”

Cantu said Bond has been working closely with Mimi Miller and Carter Burns of the Historic Natchez Foundation and architect Johnny Waycaster, who is designing an addition to the house that will include a garage. He said no statutes protect large, diseased trees. Bond is working to preserve the historic integrity of the home, Cantu said.

Bond, who spent three years renovating the McClure House, plans to make The Banker’s House his home. The McClure House is under contract and he expects to close on the house on July 30.

“He (Bond) saved a piece of property that was falling down. He will do the same thing with this house,” Cantu said.

Bond said two trees had been taken down on the property before he purchased it.

“There’s more to the story. What people don’t realize is two trees already had been taken down — one in the front and one in the rear. The previous owners of the restaurant next door took down the one in the rear because it was damaging their building. A neighbor took out the one in the front when the previous owner had it. It was damaging the neighbor’s property,” Bond said. “Those trees were a danger not only to the house and fence but also to people walking or driving by or to people who came on the property to pick pecans. I certainly didn’t mind people coming on the property to pick pecans, but someone was going to get hurt.”

The Banker’s House, 107 Canal St., was built in 1836 and was connected to the Commercial Bank of Natchez, 206 Main St., which was built in 1833. It is thought The Banker’s House was built to be the local home for an officer of the bank.