December 10, 2015 –
By John Mott Coffey
Two historic Natchez houses that need renovations have been awarded more than $300,000 in state funds for their repairs.

Magnolia Hall, built in 1858, is receiving nearly $210,000. Auburn, built in 1812, is getting about $103,400. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History announced last week its board of trustees approved the money being allocated for the two antebellum structures.

The funds for Auburn are being used for repairing balconies, columns, gutters, windows and paint. Magnolia Hall’s money will be for restoring exterior millwork, masonry, stucco and plaster.

Auburn is owned by the city of Natchez and leased to a private organization that opens it for tourists. It was the first mansion built in Natchez, according to historical accounts. Magnolia Hall is owned by the Natchez Garden Club and open for tours. It was one of the last mansions built downtown before The Civil War.

Auburn, located at Duncan Park, is designated a National Historic Landmark. Magnolia Hall, located on South Pearl Street, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The state money earmarked for the two Natchez houses is from the Community Heritage Preservation Grant program funded by the Mississippi Legislature and administered by the Department of Archives and History.

“The Legislature has saved hundreds of significant Mississippi properties through this program,” MDAH Director Katie Blount said in announcing the grants. “The Department of Archives and History is grateful for the Legislature’s support and pleased to be able to help preserve these local treasures.”

The MDAH board on Dec. 4 awarded more than $3 million to 22 structures throughout the state.

The state grants will supplement ongoing efforts to raise funds and renovate Auburn and Magnolia Hall. MDAH previously appropriated money to restore Auburn’s kitchen and servants’ quarters behind the house. Repairs for Magnolia Hall have also been done in recent years.