Historic Natchez Foundation partners with Our Restoration Nation for day-to-day management of Auburn, its promotion and restoration work

Published 1:00 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

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NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen approved a motion to allow the Historic Natchez Foundation to contract with Our Restoration Nation to operate the house, open it for tours and conduct restoration work.

Earlier this year when the Friends of Auburn were no longer able to manage the city-owned Auburn, the city entered into a contract with the Historic Natchez Foundation to take charge of the house.

Under that agreement, the city will continue to maintain the home, and will split any revenues from events or tours with the foundation. The city will get 25 percent of the revenue, and the foundation will retain 75 percent.

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The foundation, in turn, received approval during a special meeting Wednesday evening to contract with Our Restoration Nation, to manage the home and open it for tours on a day to day basis, conduct restoration project and promote Auburn in hopes of bringing additional visitors to tour it and Natchez.

Carter Burns, executive director of the Historic Natchez Foundation, said the foundation has thoroughly vetted the Berrys and any restoration work conducted on Auburn by Our Restoration Nation will require the same approval process as is required by any other historic property in the city.

Burns said Auburn would be featured as part of the Natchez Garden Club and the Pilgrimage Garden Club 2023 spring pilgrimage tours. After pilgrimage, Auburn will be open to the public for tours on a regular basis. The exact schedule should be finalized in the near future, he said.

Our Restoration Nation is owned and operated by Laine and Kevin Berry, a husband and wife team of experienced restorers “with knowledge of appropriate preservation practices, which they showcase on multiple platforms, including Instagram, YouTube and Facebook,” Burns said in a press release issued by the foundation on Thursday morning.

“Laine and Kevin have almost completed the rehabilitation of a Queen Anne house on Linton Avenue,’ Burns said.

“Our love affair with Natchez began 27 years ago when, as newlyweds, we first crossed the Mississippi River bridge and caught sight of this glorious city,” Laine Berry said in the press release.

“When we were invited by the Historic Natchez Foundation to return to the city to investigate the possibility of bringing our professional preservation acumen and passion for preserving out built environment here, we readily agreed.

“In two years since that exploratory visit, we have had the opportunity, through social media outlets, to expose over 3.5 million people from around the world not only to the beauty of the City of Natchez, her history, her culture, and her story, but also to the amazing Natchezians that make this city truly a shining beacon on a hill.

“When we learned that the city needed new stewards for Auburn, we readily stepped forward. We are so honored to be allowed to donate all of our resources — educational, financial and professional — to this city and her people. We want all to feel welcome at Auburn and we look forward to being part of this great American legacy.”

The agreement between the Historic Natchez Foundation and the Berrys will have no cost to the city. Any proceeds that go to the Berrys will come out of the 75 percent of the revenue the foundation will earn from its oversight of Auburn, Carter told the aldermen Wednesday evening.

“We are excited about this new chapter for Auburn, which is a nationally important site. This partnership is a win for all the parties involved: Laine and Kevin will bring their passion and talents for preservation to the house, the Historic Natchez Foundation will oversee the work undertaken, and the City of Natchez will benefit from the exposure on the Our Restoration Nation media platforms,” Burns said in the press release.

Aldermen on Wednesday voted five to one to approve the foundation’s partnership with Our Restoration Nation at Auburn. Alderman Billie Joe Frazier was the sole nay vote.