Melrose to host Juneteenth commemoration

Published 1:05 pm Monday, April 29, 2024

NATCHEZ – Though the emancipation of enslaved people of African descent in the Natchez area began in force with the arrival of Union forces in July 1863, the  national holiday to celebrate that newly found freedom is held each year on June 19  acknowledging when the news of the end of the Civil War arrived in Texas.

In commemoration of the Juneteenth holiday, Natchez National Historical Park will present a luminary on the front lawn at the Melrose estate on Wednesday evening, June 19.

This grand illumination will be held in remembrance of the nearly 700 enslaved people who involuntarily labored at Melrose and on the associated cotton plantations of John and Mary Louisa McMurran and who only achieved their freedom during the Civil War. The McMurrans established the Melrose estate on the east side of Natchez in the 1840s.

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The Melrose front gate will close at 5 p.m. on Juneteenth and reopen at 7:30 p.m. for the evening event.

Visitors are asked to park in the main parking lot and walk to the lower portion of the front lawn where an area will be set aside specifically for solemn reflection.

The public is encouraged to bring lawn chairs and flashlights, as it will be dark by the end of the event. The observation will conclude at 9:30 p.m. and the gates will close at 10 p.m.

Throughout the day on June 19, park staff will provide tours of the Melrose mansion that focus on the African American experience.

The tours will highlight what is known about the enslaved men, women and children who lived and labored at the estate as well as the system of slavery in this region that made such extravagant homes possible.  Melrose house tours take place seven days a week at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 pm., and 4 p.m. The cost for adults is $11.00 while children 17 and under are free.

Tour tickets can be purchased at Melrose or in advance online at

Beginning on June 10, and continuing throughout June, a temporary exhibit in the Melrose slave quarters,

“Through the Labor of Others: the McMurrans as Enslavers,” which will provide additional information on the McMurran family and those people they held in bondage.

It will include the currently known names of nearly 400 people enslaved by the McMurrans. This exhibit can be viewed free of charge every day between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The grounds and outbuildings at Melrose are open from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

For more information, visit