Pilgrimage: a long tradition withstanding the test of time

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 9, 2024

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Seemingly overnight, an explosion of pink, purple and white blooms have appeared in azalea bushes. In Natchez, that can only mean Spring Pilgrimage is not far behind.

Today, the Spring Pilgrimage officially begins.

It’s our favorite time of year next to fall. Not only do our spring blooms showcase their colors, but Natchez showcases southern hospitality in its truest form.

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While Natchez has a lot to offer history and architecture enthusiasts year-round, there is a bit more to explore during the Spring Pilgrimage, when more than 30 homes open their doors to strangers for tours.

This uniquely-Natchez tradition has survived more than 90 years through its evolution — from wearing hoopskirts and telling only a romanticized version of history from the perspective of wealthy white plantation owners to coming face-to-face with the atrocities of slavery in an effort to tell the whole story.

Two new, recently restored homes are in the lineup of 19 Pilgrimage Garden Club houses which are open to the public for tours from March 9 through April 9.

These are The Briars, overlooking the Mississippi River from the highest point on the bluff, and Holly Hedges, one of the oldest structures in Natchez dating back to the late 1700s, which we love for its unique pattern of hedges.

Additionally, a one-day special event at Hope Farm on March 30 will share updates on the restoration effort of Laine and Kevin Berry following a tragic fire in 2023. In addition to destroying much of the house, the fire claimed the life of long-time Pilgrimage Garden Club member and previous owner Ethel Banta.

Also on tour with the Pilgrimage Garden Club are Auburn, Bontura, Brandon Hall, The Burn, Concord Quarters, Green Leaves, Lansdowne, Longwood, Oak Hill, Propinquity, Ravenna, Richmond, Rip Rap, Rosalie, Routhland, Stanton Hall and Sweet Auburn.

Tickets to Pilgrimage Garden Club tour homes and more special events can be purchased at natchezpilgrimage.com.

While preparing for its 100th anniversary in 2027, the Natchez Garden Club also opens its 14 historic tour houses from March 8 through April 28.

These include Linden, Monmouth, Choctaw Hall, the House on Ellicott’s Hill, Myrtle, Sunnyside, The Towers, Cherokee, Dunleith, Glenfield, Elms Court, The J.N. Stone House, Gloucester and Magnolia Hall.

Tour tickets can be purchased at the individual homes or at Little Easy Tours or Visit Natchez.

More details on the tour houses can be found at natchezgardenclub.org.

We continue to celebrate Natchez’s richly diverse history while exploring the grandeur of the Antebellum South as guests immerse themselves in the past, and come to grips with bitter realities, to preserve these houses for generations to come.