The Natchez Garden Club officially began in 1927 as an outgrowth of The Women’s
Club of Natchez. In the spring of 1931 the small (only 57 members) but very active club was making plans to host the state organization’s annual convention. The most anticipated activity was to be a tour of the many old-fashioned gardens which should have been at their most beautiful at that time of year. To the members’ dismay, a late freeze spoiled the beauty of the gardens, and they had to hastily arrange for their visitors to tour a number of the old houses instead. This turned into an unmitigated success.
And the rest, as they say, is history. From this grew the Natchez Pilgrimage, an annual tour of antebellum homes which continues to this day.
With the proceeds of Pilgrimage, the Natchez Garden Club initiated preservation efforts
in Natchez in 1935 with the purchase of a dilapidated property now known as the House on Ellicott Hill, making it the first architectural restoration preservation project by a private organization in the State of Mississippi. Along the way, it has assured the preservation of the William Johnson House, the Priests’ House, and Lawyers’ Lodge,
along with the House on Ellicott Hill and Magnolia Hall.
Because of these efforts along with those of the Preservation Society of Ellicott Hill, the Pilgrimage Garden Club, the Auburn Garden Club, the Historic Natchez Foundation, and the citizens, Natchez, Mississippi, is now noted as being one of the few places in the
entire United States where one can find over five hundred buildings constructed before
1860. And tourism is now the major economic engine of the city’s growth.
[this page is a good place for photos of Priests’ House/Lawyers’ Lodge]