Located in Natchez, Mississippi, Stanton Hall, also referred to by the name Belfast, is an 1850s Classical-Revival-style mansion that is considered one of the most opulent extant buildings of the Antebellum period and is operated as a living history museum open for public tours.
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.
Built between 1851 and 1857 as a home for local cotton broker Frederick Stanton, Stanton Hall was originally named Belfast in honor of Stanton’s ancestral Ireland home, but the name did not endure due to Stanton’s brief occupation of the house. After Stanton’s death in 1859, maintenance of the house became a financial burden on his heirs, but the mansion survived in large part due to its occupation by Union troops during the American Civil War. Following the war, the mansion was converted into an educational facility, the Stanton College for Young Ladies. After the college’s closing, the mansion was acquired by the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1938 and restored to its original 1850s appearance for operation as a living history home museum. The home was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
Permanent Attractions and Tours
Today, half-hour walking tours of Stanton Hall are offered to the public daily by the Pilgrimage Garden Club. The mansion spans a two-acre city block near the city’s downtown area, at the intersection of Commerce, High, Monroe, and Pearl Streets. As a cultural landmark of the American South, the mansion has been featured in a number of film and television productions, including the 1951 film Show Boat and the ABC miniseries North and South. It also served as inspiration for the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland.
The two-story white brick mansion showcases a two-story Greek portico along its front exterior, flanked by four fluted Corinthian columns. Adornments are a blend of Greek Revival, Italianate, and Gothic Revival styles and include entablatures, gabled pediments, and a hipped main roof with center cupola. The home’s interior encompasses more than 11,000 square feet throughout its two stories, with 17-foot ceilings and elaborate Carrera marble design features. 10-foot mahogany doors and intricate glass and bronze chandeliers serve as testament to the home’s status as one of the most ornate preserved Antebellum mansions.
In addition to Stanton Hall, the Pilgrimage Garden Club also owns and operates the nearby Longwood estate, designed for Haller and Julia Nutt in 1860 by Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan. Construction on the ornate octagonal residence, designed to mimic an Asian villa, was halted due to the American Civil War, leaving all of the home’s interior unfinished except for its basement level, where the Nutt family continued to reside through the beginning of the 20th century. Locally nicknamed “Nutt’s Folly,” the residence was deeded to the Club in 1970 and restored to its original condition. Visitors may tour the home’s finished basement and unfinished upper floors, as well as its grounds, which include a detached kitchen currently being restored by the Club. Both the Stanton Hall and Longwood facilities may be privately rented for private special events, including weddings and rehearsal dinners.
Adjacent to Stanton Hall, the Carriage House restaurant has been a Natchez institution since 1946 and serves as a frequent after-tour gathering place for tour groups. Chef Bingo Starr cultivates a menu of classic Southern fare, including mint julep cocktails and famous fried chicken and silver dollar biscuit meals. Soups, salads, and sandwiches are also served, and a Sunday brunch highlights Gulf seafood dishes.
Stanton Hall and Longwood serve as stops on the Natchez Fall Pilgrimage in October, which features open home and garden tours and evening entertainment at many of the city’s historic home sites. Halloween and Christmas-themed tours of the facilities are also offered during the fall and winter months.
401 High St, Natchez, MS 39120, Phone: 601-445-5151