From the mayor’s desk: Honoring the Historic Natchez Foundation

Published 5:19 pm Saturday, January 13, 2024

Thursday evening, at the annual meeting of the Historic Natchez Foundation, it was my honor to present The Key to the City to this great organization, now celebrating 50 years of helping to preserve the history of Natchez! The following is the written proclamation, so very much deserved – and so very much earned.

“In recognition and appreciation of its many significant contributions to our city, we honor the Historic Natchez Foundation, founded fifty years ago, in 1974, by a committee of the Natchez Historical Society composed of: Grace MacNeil, Peggy and Howard Peabody, Dr. Thomas Gandy, Joan Warren (later Gandy), Brent Forman, and Everette Truly. Little did this small group realize then what a force the Historic Natchez Foundation would become.

Receiving no public funds and relying strictly on private donations to fund its operating expenses, the Foundation can be credited with a remarkable record of achievement, working to “preserve and tell the story of Natchez while stimulating development through the rehabilitation of historic properties.”

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This was made possible in large part with the arrival of Ron Miller in 1979, the first Executive Director of the Historic Natchez Foundation, and his wife Mimi. For nearly thirty years, Ron steered the HNF, with Mimi at his side, through many amazing accomplishments. In 2008, when Ron was called upon to lead efforts to restore historic properties on the coast damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Mimi stepped into the role of Executive Director, and the Foundation never skipped a beat. Eventually, after Mimi stepped into the role of Executive Director Emerita (retiring in 2018, but still working full-time), the HNF would welcome its third Executive Director, Carter Burns, who today works tirelessly to continue the great work of so many leaders and volunteers who have gone before him.

Since 1979, the Historic Natchez Foundation has listed over 1,000 historic buildings in the National Register of Historic Places and prepared National Register nominations for eight historic districts throughout our city. The Foundation has provided technical assistance to hundreds of property owners and filed successful applications for grant and/or tax credit funding for over two hundred projects. The HNF has saved over fifty historic properties from demolition, provided tax incentives and grant eligibility for the restoration of countless other properties, and even rehabilitated historic houses for affordable housing through the Heritage Housing Program. It is impossible to imagine Natchez without the HNF. Our city would not be what it is were it not for this force for good.

Now therefore, in my capacity as Mayor of Natchez, and on behalf of our city and Board of Aldermen, I am pleased to present to the Historic Natchez Foundation this Key to the City.”

May the Historic Natchez Foundation continue to flourish for many more years to come, and in doing so, may it continue to leave its historic and lasting impact on our city. Because Natchez Deserves More.

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.