Natchez Spring Pilgrimage plans announced - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; |

Natchez Spring Pilgrimage plans announced

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NATCHEZ, Ms., (KNOE 8 News) - A birthday party for the popular first governor of Mississippi, soulful African-American music, joyful youngsters circling a Spring Maypole, an elegant 1850's soiree, magnificent architecture, and a peek into pre-Civil War history through the eyes of descendants of the era and much more will be featured during the four-week event.

Tours of 23 antebellum homes and six Museum Houses are slated, with hostesses, many of them descendants of the original owners, clad in period costumes weaving the intriguing tales of each home's history. Some hostesses will regale guests with first-person interpretations of the original owner's life and times.

Visitors to The Gov. Homes House, for instance, will be treated to a re-enactment of a birthday party for Gov. David Holmes, who was born March 10, 1769, and elected as Mississippi's first governor in 1817. "Gov. Holmes will greet guests at the front door," promises Eugenie Cates, owner of the residence. The hostesses in each room will represent prominent people of the community from the era, and the party will continue with punch served in the rear courtyard.

The authentic 18th Century party will conclude with a bit of dancing as visitors are invited to join in a waltz. Cates notes that the party atmosphere adds to the unique experience. "Guests walk out with a little bit of history that they've learned in a fun way."

The city's six Museum Houses, Longwood (1860-1861), Rosalie (1820), Stanton Hall (1857), Magnolia Hall (1858), The House on Ellicott Hill (1798) and Auburn (1812) will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily throughout Pilgrimage and may be toured individually or added to a three-house tour.

All of the homes on tour are easily accessible and have ample parking for private vehicles, as well as motor coaches. The sites are all located within a 10 to15-minute radius, and brochures and maps for the entire Pilgrimage and each individual home are freely provided at the Natchez Visitors Center, 640 S. Canal St. There the Natchez Pilgrimage Tours staff will aid visitors with their tour and entertainment choices if desired, including details of the mini bus tours.

A variety of evening entertainment is also offered during Spring Pilgrimage, including the Historic Natchez Tableaux that depicts life in Natchez from its inception to the Civil War through tableaux, song and dance. Community participants of all ages in period costumes join in presenting this exceptional theatrical experience.

"Southern Exposure," the 1950's Broadway spoof of the Natchez Pilgrimage's early days, will be presented at the Natchez Little Theatre four nights per week, and the "Southern Road to Freedom" will be presented three evenings a week by the award-winning Holy Family Church Gospel Choir. This soulful, stirring tribute to the African-American experience in Natchez is revealed through song and first-person narrative.

The Joseph Stone House will be the intimate setting of a "Soiree Musicale" on Friday and Saturday evenings, presented by renowned classical pianist Joseph Stone.

For visitors who desire to linger and tour Natchez at a more leisurely pace after April 9, special two-hour tours will be available from April 10 to 13 each morning and afternoon. A candlelight tour and reception are planned at The Towers April 13 from 7 to 9 p.m.

"Our homeowners are extremely excited and ready to open their doors to tourists from around the country," notes Marsha Colson, director of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours. "There is extraordinary community support for the annual festivities. Participants range from toddlers to teens, and senior citizens as well."

Natchez Pilgrimage Tours serves as a citywide concierge, Colson emphasized, providing assistance to individuals and groups to obtain tickets to tours, evening events and dining recommendations and reservations, including dining in private antebellum homes. Custom tour packages are available.

For complete information concerning the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage or to make reservations, contact the Natchez Visitors Center at 1-800-647-6742, 1-601-446-6631 or go on-line to

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