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Antebellum beauty, strife on display in Natchez, Mississippi


The homes are generally rectangular to square ... (meaning “before the war” for those of you who are not history snobs) mansions than Natchez, Mississippi. Stepping onto a Natchez street is like leaping into the pages of "Gone With the Wind."


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As a young girl, I loved Margaret Mitchell's “Gone with the Wind.” Never, I believe, has America been so charmed by a character that nobody would want as a friend in real lifeBut Scarlett O'Hara was astonishingly beautiful, had an 18” waist, and lived in a mansionIt seemed to me that life in such a body and house with her wardrobe would be pretty good, even if I was a selfish, petulant sort of person that nobody liked. Now that I'm a grown up girl, of course I see life differentlyExcept for the mansion partI love architecture! And though "Gone With the Wind" describes the house (Tara) as an ugly building, the description of it belies that definition. Though most American architectural trends originate in Europe, they have been so widely used in different areas of the USA that they have become more synonymous with their American roots than their European ancestry. This is especially true for the style of home Scarlett's beloved Tara was modeled afterTechnically, it's Greek revival, but most of us associate it with the typical 19th century southern mansion. The homes are generally rectangular to square, two stories with an attic and basementThere are typically white columns in front that hold up the porch roof, balcony and main roofShutters adorn each window and there are often covered porches on the back as the house as well. Nowhere are there more well preserved Antebellum (meaning “before the war” for those of you who are not history snobs) mansions than Natchez, Mississippi. Stepping onto a Natchez street is like leaping into the pages of "Gone With the Wind." Everywhere you look brick structures flaunt their Greek revival styleThe crepe myrtle, bougainvillea and honeysuckle hum with drunken bees, and the scent of roses hangs heavy in the moist air. Natchez is named for the native Indian tribe that lived in that region until the early 1700sThere's a recreated village nearby for tourists with interesting interpretations of what life was like before the French arrived in the early 1700sAfter the French and Indian War, the French ceded the area around Natchez to SpainSpain later traded the site to Great BritainIt became part of the USA when the patriots won the Revolutionary war. The little town sits on a bluff on the east side of the Mississippi River and was the terminus for the Natchez Trace, an ancient roadway that followed the river northBefore steam boats were introduced about 1820, traders would raft their crops and wares south to Natchez or New Orleans and then walk back to the northEven the most virile frontiersman couldn't manage to paddle far upstream on the mighty MississippiThere are still segments of the old Trace visible and marked with historic markers. Natchez, situated so deep in the south, also was known for its slave commerceEventually, cotton plantations sprung up all around Natchez and what's a cotton plantation without a pillared and balconied mansion? With the air heavy with humidity and hot, cloying summers, covered porches where people can catch a bit of a breeze would be crucial for survival. There are more than 1,000 Natchez structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and among those, a dozen or so have the elite designation of National Historic LandmarkNatchez escaped most of the Civil War conflict as battles were centered upstream 70 miles or so at VicksburgThe majority of the mansions were built between about 1840 and 1858. The slave history on display in Natchez also is compellingIt doesn't take long to understand that Margaret Mitchell's depiction is wildly inaccurate of slave life or dispositionThe museum of African American History and Culture in Natchez tells a more truthful and not-less fascinating story of life for a slave in the deep south. Everywhere you turn in Natchez, there is evidence of the opulent lifestyle of the cotton baronsIntricate ironwork, complex windows, graceful gardens and stately architecture compete on every corner for visitors' admirationSome of the ancient homes are still occupied by the descendants of those who built them. Natchez is a place of storiesMany are opulent, even exotic, but others are those of heartache and bondageIt's a section of the American canvas painted in colorful history. Only in America, God bless it. 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A painted Wrought Iron Gate hints at the garden behind it. [Photo by Beth Stephenson]  A window made with poured glass in an antebellum home in Natchez. [Photo by Beth Stephenson]   Rosalie mansion in Natchez, home to high romance and many orphans[Photo by Beth Stephenson] $(document).ready(function() { setTimeout( function() { initNextGenGallery('0'); }, 4000 ); }); .widget.minimal.boxed .selected_options label { display: block; margin: 0; } .widget.minimal.boxed.selected_options input { margin: 0 5px 0 0; float: left; } [onclick]{ cursor:pointer; } .widget.minimal.boxed{ background: #f6f6f6; clear: both; padding: 15px; font-size: 15px; border: 1px solid rgba(0,0,0,.1); overflow: hidden; } .widget.minimal.boxed .hd{ padding-top:0; border-top:none; } .widget.minimal.boxed .icon-envelope{ color:#0099e6; } .widget.minimal.boxed #newsletterWrapper{ padding-bottom:0; } .widget.minimal.boxed #newsletterWrapper input{ vertical-align:middle; } .widget.minimal.boxed .view-sample{ display:inline-block; color:#0099e6 !important; } .widget.minimal.boxed #email { width:65%; } .span8 .widget.minimal.boxed .input-append { width:58%; } .span8 .widget.minimal.boxed #email { width:68%; } /* mobile uses the id gridSystem */ #gridSystem .widget.minimal.boxed{ margin-bottom:10px; padding:8px; } #gridSystem .widget.minimal.boxed .input-append { width:100%; margin-bottom:10px; } #gridSystem .widget.minimal.boxed .input-append .btn{ margin-left:-4px; } #gridSystem .widget.minimal.boxed .hd{ width:95%;padding-bottom: 5px; } Subscribe to NewsOK's Daily News Headlines Stay informed with a wide selection of the top news, sports, entertainment and lifestyle headlinesDelivered twice daily    View sample .thumbnails-a .trc_rbox_header { margin-bottom: 10px; display: block; border-top: 3px solid #CCC; border-bottom: 1px solid #CCC; padding: 10px 0; } .trc_inner_header { font-size: 20px; margin-bottom: 5px; display: block; border-top: 3px solid #CCC; border-bottom: 1px solid #CCC; padding: 10px 0; } #taboola-below-article-hybrid-text-links { margin-bottom: 15px; } #taboola-below-article-hybrid-text-links > div > div > div > div > #rbox-t2m > div > div:nth-child(odd) { background-color: #efefef; } #taboola-below-article-hybrid-text-links > div > div > div > div > #rbox-t2m > div > div.videoCube { padding: 6px 8px; line-height: 20px; font-size: 14px !important; font-family: Georgia; border: none; } window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-a', container: 'taboola-below-article-thumbnails', placement: 'Below Article Thumbnails', target_type: 'mix' }); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'hybrid-text-links-a', container: 'taboola-below-article-hybrid-text-links', placement: 'Below Article Hybrid Text Links', target_type: 'mix' }); Comments Advertisement

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