Major improvement projects under way at Melrose

Published 5:38 pm Monday, August 22, 2022

NATCHEZ — The Natchez National Historical Park recently began a series of restoration projects at Melrose, the mid-19th century suburban estate and National Historic Landmark.

Crews began installing new cedar shake roofs on nine outbuildings at Melrose, according to a press release from the National Park Service.

When completed in 1848, the estate’s main house boasted a slate roof but all of the outbuildings were covered with common cedar shakes. The crew began on the former kitchen, which today serves as the site’s visitor center with an adjoining exhibit space. In addition to the kitchen, this project calls for the re-roofing of the dairy, smokehouse, stable, carriage house, two privies and two slave cabins.

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“Maintaining the building envelope on these historic structures with the best cedar shingles and installation techniques available is expected to protect the historic structures themselves for at least the next two decades while preserving the historic character of the site,” said Superintendent Kathleen Bond. “The new roofs will also prevent potential damage to the current exhibits and office space.”

Landscaping crews are also at work trimming limbs and removing dead and damaged trees throughout the Melrose estate.

“The grounds suffered substantial damage during the ice storm of 2021, and quite a bit of the work taking place today is simply clean up from that event. And, as a safety precaution, the estate requires cyclical maintenance on and removal of some trees in the formal gardens and wooded areas near the main house,” Bond said.

Finally, this fall visitors to Melrose will see painters tackling the wooden trim on the mansion and the exteriors of the kitchen, dairy, cistern houses, slave cabins, carriage house, and privies, as well as all accessibility ramps and wood fences.

“The estate should be looking its best in 2023,” said Bond. “We hope to see you there!”

The park expects these projects to have minimal impact on operations at the site, which is open seven days per week 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors with any questions are encouraged to call 601-446-5790 ahead of their visit or to monitor the alerts posted at www.nps.gov/natc.