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Friends of the Armstrong Library

Christmas Tour of Natchez Homes 2009

2 - 5 pm on Sunday, December 6, 2009  

$15 one ticket 
Only $25 two tickets 

Tickets can be purchased at the Library 
or at the homes on the day of the Tour.

Click here to see pictures of the Tour. 

Featured Locations  

Hess House
Coyle House 
Benoist-Stier House

Google Map to the Homes
Printed Map

Riverview House


47 New Street
Home of John Miller 
(Refreshment Center) 

The original structure, c. 1842, changed in 1867 when Lt George M Brown, CSA, a cotton planter and investor, bought the property. Riverview, finished in 1869, became the Brown family home. Lt Brown feared tornados so he built the walls 13” thick with iron rods running from foundation to wall tops, including inside partitions. He completely rebuilt the original structure; adding double parlors, a large sitting room, and an office. He also added a two story structure in the rear with two rooms up and down, all containing fireplaces. In 1891, he added an English style dining room with walnut paneling, a pine bow arch ceiling, and an adjoining kitchen. The original separate kitchen structure, which predates the house, remains.

The home stayed in the Brown family until the mid 1900s and is now owned by John Miller, who began taking it back in time to Lt Brown’s dream home. All period gas chandeliers (now electrified) have been added. In keeping with the French ironwork on the front of the veranda, the house has many pairs of French Carcel lamps and a large collection of Old Paris china, including a complete large dining service. Miller purchased the Brown’s original English coin silver tea service, Lt Brown’s writing desk, a tester bed, and a George III chest original to the house. The house is furnished with a mixture of French, English, and American antiques almost solely from the 16th and 17th centuries along with mirrors, porcelain, and paintings from the same period.

The house contains many items connected to President Jefferson Davis, including two original oil portraits and one of his wife Varina. There are dried flowers from his funeral caisson, letters, and memorials from throughout the South.


Hess House

Hess House

314 Linton Avenue
Home of Richard Hess

This 1890s Queen Anne mansion retains many original features. An unusual three tiered turret graces the front, as do two porches with gingerbread trim. The ornate front door has sunburst motifs at its corners and busts of females, as well as an urn at the top, all surrounding original etched glass. Inside, an unusual asymmetrical floor plan features an inglenook and tiled hearth for a porcelain stove. Hardwood floors are bordered with parquet trim. And Eastlake style staircase combines square panels with ornate spool work, and the newel post sports a winged cupid light fixture. A leaded art glass panel on the landing features tulips and many red and pink faceted “jewels”.

Walls are divided by plaster work in the French manner and curved fretwork spandrels divide the entrance hall from other rooms. The main parlor features a classical frieze around the ceiling, a five-sided bay window with interior sliding shutters, and operating transoms. The chandelier is original. Pocket doors separate the dining room from the parlor. Here, the chandelier has winged angels and swags in a copper finish. A cast iron plate warmer sits in the corner. Adjoining, the butler’s pantry has some original cabinetry. Another stair is in the back hall, meant for informal use. At the rear of the house is a contemporary kitchen and den, originally a porch.

The porte cochere gave shelter getting in or out of carriages, and is ornamented with spoolwork and arched spandrels. Behind the house is a carriage house, incorporating servant’s quarters.


Coyle House

Coyle House

307 South Wall Street 
Home of Marcia & Lem Adams

Built on a Spanish land grant made in 1793, this house is one of the oldest in Natchez and a significant example of the vernacular Federal style. The brick first story is probably a later addition built beneath the house when Wall Street was cut through a small hill. This neighborhood was known as “Spanish Town” during the territorial period.

In 1806 Philip and Mary Engel acquired the portion of Coyle’s grant where the house stands. During their ownership the sales price of the house increased dramatically to $2500. Information about these early owners includes records of a 12 year old girl who was apprenticed by her widowed mother to Mary Engle to learn the business of seamstress and housekeeper. At the end of the apprenticeship Mrs. Engle was to provide “two suits of wearing apparel, one suitable for Sundays and the other working days, together with the sum of twenty dollars.” An inventory upon Mrs. Engle’s death showed she also ran a tavern at the Coyle House, and that she freed her only slave, who had been bought by her husband.

This property was acquired by the Natchez Historical Society in 1960, which used it as headquarters until the 1990s. Current owners have furnished the house in period antiques, as well as reproduction furnishings made by local cabinetmakers David Pruett and Billy Simonton.


Benoist Stiers House

Benoist-Stier House

410 South Union Street
Home of Ginny and Paul Benoist

The Louis Armand Benoist-Julia Stier House at 410 South Union Street is the home of the family of Paul and Ginny Benoist, at least the fifth generation of Benoists to inhabit the home.

The original portion of the house was built between 1883 and 1886 and was a much simpler house of only one-and-a-half stories. It incorporated design elements of both the earlier Italianate and newly popular Queen Anne Styles. The Benoist family has a historic photograph of the house, and Sanborn Insurance Maps at the Historic Natchez Foundation document the architectural evolution.

Around 1900, the Benoist family hired Robert E Bost to enlarge and remodel the house. Bost came to Natchez to oversee construction on the Natchez Hotel and remained to become the most prolific and skilled of the architects and builders working in Natchez in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He and his wife Annie Davis Bost designed and built most of the grand Queen Anne and Colonial Revival residences in the city, as well as numerous small cottages dotted throughout downtown and its historic suburbs.

Bost retained the earlier house and incorporated it into a much grander two story, Colonial Revival house with dominant tower. The house has such typical Colonial Revival features as applied scroll decoration and a classical entrance portico supported by Roman ionic columns. The entrance portico is an extension of the house’s generous wraparound gallery with classical detailing.

The Benoist family has the original construction plans, heating plans, and invoices for building the house and the receipts for the landscape, gardens, and nursery orders. The architectural integrity of the house is exceptional. Outstanding original features include the double leaf entrance doors with beveled glass, the sliding doors on the interior, leaded glass windows, and ornate mantel pieces with ceramic tile fronts. The large size of the house is reflected in its seven bedrooms.

The Benoist-Stier House has a large collection of original furnishings, including portraits of family members that still hang on the walls. The Benoist family has a fascinating collection of family memorabilia dating from the antebellum era to modern day Natchez. The Historic Natchez Foundation has been inventorying and cataloging historic Mardi Gras costumes, souvenir items, photographs, letters, and other items that tell the story of the Natchez past. Generations of the Benoist family have made significant contributions to the City of Natchez in the fields of commerce, medicine, law, and education, and through their participation in all aspects of the civic and cultural life of the Natchez community.