Preservation panel OKs bluff location for U.S. Colored Troops monument

Published 1:15 pm Thursday, March 23, 2023

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NATCHEZ — The Natchez Preservation Commission gave preliminary approval to the design of the proposed U.S. Colored Troops monument in order for the group behind the monument to begin its fundraising effort.

That approval came during a Wednesday meeting and after several people in the audience objected to the location of the monument and its scope.

Matt Pearson of Natchez, who said he lives near the 10,000 square feet of the bluff area at the corner of Madison and Broadway streets where the monument will stand, said placement of the monument there would take away “pristine open space” on the bluff.

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Others asked if locating the monument at that site would mean no more bluff concerts. It will not, monument committee members said.

Representing the committee were Lance Harris, who was in charge of the design subcommittee, and Robert Pernell, who is chairman of the monument committee. They said the committee has consulted with Ardenland, who has produced and promoted several recent concerts on the bluff, and the monument at that site will not interfere with concerts or where they would be located.

Liz Dantone, a member of the preservation commission and a Natchez architect, said the monument development would enhance the bluff site, adding a shaded area with a berm and benches where people could gather. Plenty of room would remain for outdoor sports and activities.

Mary Jane Gaudet, also a member of the monument committee and a Natchez tour guide, gave an impassioned plea for the monument, its design and location.

“This (monument) will continue to enhance the life quality — the good life quality,” Gaudet said. Having three children who live in Europe, she said she goes regularly to Seville, Spain, “which is as hot as Natchez.”

She said parks are developed with trees and water features, which make them more usable during hot weather.

“The bluff has been the best thing Natchez has. It has brought our races together. It has brought our friendships together,” she said. “This will not take away. It will enhance life quality.”

Others objected to the size proposed for the statues of the soldiers. The sculptor has imagined them to be 12-14 feet tall.

In making its motion to approve the design, the commission asked that the committee consider making those soldiers less imposing, limiting them to 9 to 10 feet tall.