Generous donation from Natchez native will mean new barn for city cemetery

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2022

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Cemetery Association has received a donation of $400,000 to construct a new barn facility.

Grace Augusta Manning died Aug. 12, 2020, at her home in Dallas. She was born in Natchez in 1927.

Manning left the donation to the cemetery association, specifying it be used to construct a new barn.

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The cemetery’s current barn is approximately 100 years old, and is the only space to shelter cemetery workers. In addition to storage of cemetery equipment, workers use it for their meal breaks, as well.

The City Cemetery is the property of the City of Natchez, but is wholly managed and operated by the organizational entity, the Natchez Cemetery Association. The association’s board of directors consists of 24 members.

Cemetery board president, Terry Stutzman, and board member, Liz Dantone, discussed the donation and plans for its use at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen.

“Manning was a really interesting lady,” Stutzman said. “She was successful in her business endeavors and had a love for the cemetery. She was always interested in doing things for the cemetery, and wanted to do more. We are so thankful for her generosity and were totally surprised by this wonderful donation.”

Because the cemetery is an historic landmark, the city’s preservation commission will be charged with approving the design and plans for the new barn. Those designs are just beginning at Waycaster and Associates.

No exact timeline has been set, but Stutzman said hopes are construction could begin in the spring of 2023 and the new barn be completed by October 2023, in time for the November 2023 presentation of Angels on the Bluff.

“The old barn is going to remain,” Dantone said. “It has to continue to function while the new barn is under construction and before we move.

“After a move into the barn building, then we anticipate another project in the future to preserve and restore the original maintenance barn. There may become a different use for that building, which is an exciting thought,” she said.

The maintenance and operation of the city cemetery was transferred to the Natchez Cemetery Association in 1908. What began as 10 acres now encompasses 100 acres.

The aldermen endorsed the project Tuesday night.