Natchez National Historical Park | PARK AT A GLANCE

Melrose Mansion at Natchez National Historical Park

Melrose Mansion at Natchez National Historical Park

PARK OVERVIEW

Natchez National Historical Park was created to preserve the history of Natchez, Mississippi. Natchez served as Mississippi’s first capital and is more than one hundred years older than Jackson, the state’s current capital city. Natchez was one of the busiest slave trading hubs in the south, second only to New Orleans, and was home to more millionaires than any other city in the country. Many of these men built their mansions in Natchez, taking advantage of the high ground above the Mississippi River that was immune to flooding. Its antebellum homes were spared from destruction because the Union army decided to occupy the town after the battle at Vicksburg instead of burning it to the ground. General Grant even made his headquarters in one of the mansions. Natchez now claims to have more antebellum homes than any other city. Two of these homes, both in stark contrast to one another, now make up Natchez National Historical Park.

Melrose Mansion is the park’s main draw. An ornate palace built in the Greek Revival architectural style, it originally sat in the countryside that surrounded Natchez, but because of the town’s growth, today it is in the suburbs. The mansion was built in the 1840s and served as the home of plantation owner John McMurran (being a home, this is not the site of a farming plantation). Visitors can tour the mansion with a park Ranger and walk around the grounds, which include out buildings such as slave quarters, a stable, and a carriage house. A garden is also on the property. Melrose is one of many antebellum mansions open to the public in Natchez.

Unlike the glamorous home of John McMurran, the William Johnson house can easily be mistaken for a brick office building in downtown Natchez. Johnson was born into slavery, being the child of his white master and black slave mother. However, Johnson was raised as part of the family and was freed by his father when he was eleven. His claim to fame is that he wrote a daily diary for sixteen years, from 1835 until he was murdered in 1851. This was during a time when it was illegal for blacks to read or write. Packed away for years, the diaries were discovered and published in 1951 and are considered among the finest written accounts of daily life in a small, antebellum town. Johnson went on to become quite wealthy as a barber, operating three shops in Natchez and the surrounding area. He was also a slave owner. His home is now open to the pubic, with a museum about his life on the lower floor and his living quarters on the upper floor. Visitors are allowed to tour the living quarters on their own. A park Ranger is on duty to answer any questions.

The third property is the site of Fort Rosalie. There are no remains of the fort; the grounds now serve as a park and picnic area.


OPERATING HOURS

The Natchez National Historical Park consists of three properties. The most popular attraction is the Melrose Mansion. The grounds and gardens are open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, except for when closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The inside of the house can only be seen on Ranger-guided tours, which are held daily at 10 AM, 11 AM, 2 PM, and 3 PM. Tours last about 45 minutes.

The William Johnson House, located in downtown Natchez, is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM on Mondays through Saturdays, and from 12 PM to 5 PM on Sundays, except for when closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. It is also closed from 12 PM to 1 PM each day for lunch.

Fort Rosalie is open from sunrise to sunset.

Hours can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to visit the Natchez National Historical Park’s Operating Hours and Seasons web page for the latest schedule.


FEES

Entrance to the Melrose Mansion grounds and gardens and to the William Johnson House are free. There is a fee for Melrose Mansion tours. See the park’s Fees and Passes web page for the current prices.


SCHEDULING YOUR VISIT

Melrose Mansion
(allow 2 – 2.5 hours)

William Johnson House
(allow 1.5 hours)


Back to the Top


With a few exceptions, use of any photograph on the National Park Planner website requires a paid Royalty Free Editorial Use License or Commercial Use License. See the Photo Usage page for details.
Last updated on January 17, 2022
Share this article