The House on Ellicott Hill - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

The House on Ellicott Hill

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NATCHEZ, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

By Walt Grayson - bio | email

NATCHEZ, MS (WLBT) - It crowns a bluff in downtown Natchez overlooking the Mississippi River; well, past the post office it overlooks the river. The bluff has a name and then the house gets its name from the bluff.

This is Ellicott Hill, named for Andrew Ellicott who was sent to this area by President George Washington to survey the line between the American Mississippi Territory on this side of the line and Spanish West Florida to the south.

 Ellicott was the first to raise the American Flag in the territory on this hill in 1797. A replica of that flag flies here just outside the House on Ellicott Hill in honor of that event. 

Andrew Ellicott never saw the house built on his hill. It was started a year after he left and was finished up about 1801. A planter in the area, James Moore, built it. Only he didn't plant cotton. That came a little later. At that time, we still raised tobacco and popcorn in this area. Cotton and its wealth brought the mansions and columns, popcorn paid for this West Indies style home.

This is what early Natchez would have looked like. Sue Ann Wilt is one of the tour guides at the house. And she places the House on Ellicott Hill in the time line of Natchez history.

"This house is the very early history of Natchez. This is not the glitz and glamour of the columned mansions," said Wilt.

Not that there isn't quite a deal of charm to the House on Ellicott Hill. The hand tooled molding in the woodwork; the vaulted ceilings in some of the rooms. But had the Natchez Garden Club not restored the house when they bought it in 1932, it may not have lasted this long.  

Here are some photographs taken just before work started back then; rotted timbers, decades of neglect, sagging ceilings. It would have been a lot easier to walk away from it than to fix it up. But in putting the house back in order, a rare type architecture for our area was saved. 

"It's West Indian in nature. There are some other houses like this. I'm told over on the Cane River near Shreveport and also one down near Baton Rouge," said Wilt. 

And ours in Natchez. History was made here when the American flag was raised signaling the Spanish it was time for them to go on south to New Orleans. And this style house from early Mississippi history has been saved. And the house is open year-round on Fridays and Saturdays, on Ellicott Hill in Natchez. 

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