Located in Natchez, Mississippi, Rosalie Mansion is a pre-Civil-War-era living history museum designated as a National Historic Landmark and cited as a prominent influence on Antebellum architecture in the American South. Originally established as a settlement and trading post by French colonists in 1716, Natchez, Mississippi served as a major center for trade and commerce throughout the first two centuries of European settlement in North America. Following the French and Indian War, the settlement was ceded to Spain, and later to America following the Revolutionary War.
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The area had served as the southern terminus for the Natchez Trace, a major trade route used by indigenous Mississippi River area tribes, for centuries prior to the arrival of Europeans in North America. During the mid 19th century, the city attracted a large number of planters and entrepreneurs, who built elaborate Antebellum-style mansions on their cotton and sugarcane plantations. Though the city’s days as a national hub for cotton and sugarcane production ended by the early 20th century, a number of the plantations mansions were preserved by local citizen groups and nonprofit organizations and operate today as living history museums.
Rosalie Mansion was built along the banks of the Mississippi River in 1823 as the residence of Peter Little, a cotton broker from Natchez, Mississippi. The three-story Greek Revival mansion was constructed over a portion the site of the former French fort Rosalie, the site of the Natchez Revolt of 1729, which resulted in the deaths of more than 230 French colonists and the eventual dissolution of the Natchez tribe into nearby Cherokee and Creek indigenous tribes. Little kept the Rosalie name for the property, named in honor of the French Countess of Pontchartrain, as a memorial to the site’s history.
Throughout much of the following three decades, Little and his wife Eliza operated the house as an extension of the Natchez Children’s Home, which Eliza had helped to found in 1816. During the American Civil War, however, the mansion was seized by General Ulysses S. Grant in 1863 and served as a headquarters for Union Army troops for the remainder of the war. Original furnishings belonging to Little were stored in the mansion’s attic to prevent destruction or theft, which helped to ensure their preservation following the war. When the Littles passed away in the mid 1850s without leaving behind a will, the house was sold at auction to Andrew Wilson, whose family retained ownership of the mansion until 1938. Following the death of the house’s final Wilson occupant, the property was acquired by the Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution, which restored and renovated the house for operation as a living history museum. In 1989, the mansion was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Attractions and Programs
Today, Rosalie Mansion is open to the public seven days a week for guided and self-guided tours, including group tours for students and organizations. The three-story brick mansion features a front facade with a four-column Tuscan portico, as well as a five-column portico extending from its rear entrance. Entablature and gabled pediment adornments along the house’s facade, as well as a truncated hip roof and low balustrade, are typical of the mansion’s Greek Revival styling, particularly the Early Classical Revival and Federalist styles, which were popularized by United States President Thomas Jefferson. Window features, such as the mansion’s oval fanlight and symmetrical row windows, also exemplify the Early Classical style. The mansion’s first floor features a wide central hall between the front and back entrances, with a library, dining room, and two parlors located on either side. Four bedrooms are located on the second floor, which also utilizes a central hall layout to maximize air circulation. All rooms are furnished with period-appropriate furnishings and artifacts, including pieces originally owned by the Little and Wilson families.
Two surviving outbuildings, a two-story servant’s quarters and kitchen and a smokehouse, are located on the mansion’s property, which has been landscaped into a number of small formal gardens, including the Walter Reed Page Smith Garden, the Patricia Walton Shelby Bicentennial Garden, and the Janet Terreson Sims Memorial Rose Garden. A gift shop located inside the mansion’s former carriage house contains a variety of handcrafted artisan works and Civil War-related souvenirs.
The Mississippi State Society’s Daughters of the American Revolution genealogical library is housed at the mansion, offering free public use of records for personal genealogical research. Rosalie Mansion is also available for private special event rental, including weddings, family reunions, and business events.
100 Orleans St, Natchez, MS 39120, Phone: 601-445-4555