The Longwood Plantation were the dreams of Dr. Haller Nutt, a wealthy cotton Plantation owner. Dr. Nutt had plans to build Longwood for his himself, wife and his eight children. Their home was to be built in the 19th Century Oriental Revival Style and would have been of the grandest houses in Natchez, Mississippi.
History of Longwood Plantation
In 1859, Architect Samuel Sloan was hired to design the house. But the house was never completed. In 1861, the news of the Civil War reached the Natchez area, northern artisans dropped their tools and fled north to join the Union forces.
Even though, Dr. Nutt was a Union sympathizer, he lost his fortune as many southern land owners did. In 1864, Dr. Nutt passed away without ever seeing his dreams completed.
Sadly, the family was not able to recover from the war and future generations struggled to keep the house and property. The house and 93 acres were sold Mr. and Mrs. Kelly McAdams in 1968. Later that year the property was donated to the McAdams Foundation in Austin, Texas.
In 1969 the Longwood Plantation was designated a National Historic Landmark and was then sold to the Pilgrimage Garden Club of Natchez, MS. in 1970.
Longwood Plantation Design Details
According to our tour guide, the Longwood Plantation is not only important to Natchez History as a time capsule into mid-19th century construction and life style, but it is also the largest surviving octagonal houses built in the country. It is also considered one of the finest surviving examples an Oriental Revival style house that displays the phase of exotic architectural romanticism that was common during mid-century America.
Dr. Haller Nut and his wife worked closely with Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan to build the house of their dreams. The end design was to be a multistory octagonal villa with a domed cupola, a furnished basement, 32 rooms, 26 fireplaces, 115 doors, 96 columns, and 30,000 square feet. However, only 9 rooms were completed.
The property sites on 87 acres in Natchez, MS. and has multiple buildings near the house. Those buildings include the kitchen, slave quarters, carriage house, stables, and the necessary. At one time, the property had a geometrically-patterned garden that could be seen at the edge of the property. Toward the southwest corner of the property, the family cemetery can be found.
To see floor plans, cross section of the house, and interior shots of the basement, please check out The Broken Dreams of Longwood article. It has a lot of great information pictures of areas that pictures were not allowed.
Longwood Plantation still sits unfinished, only the basement is complete and furnished.
The upper floors remained unfinished when the northern artisans and worked fled north. Much of the floors remained untouched for a 100 years. Family members (several generations lived in the basement of the house.) and the later owners of the property only went upstairs to make repairs or make it safe for the public.
The lesser buildings on the property have been restored and are used as offices or maintenance buildings. The carriage house has on display tools, carriage, and other equipment you might have found on the property during the 19th century.
As for the land itself, the original gravel entry to the house is the same one used today. The gardens are gone (at least right now they are) and the property is wooded except for the general area around the house. Its well kept and looks nice. I imagine it would look better 100 years ago and if they could afford to maintain expensive gardens.
The Interior of the Main House
As mentioned before the house was never completed. Dr. Huller ended up using local artisans to complete the basement so they could live in there dream home. Currently, the house has been restored to what it would looked like during the Dr. Huller’s time in the house. The Garden Club has collected and restored items that were originally part of the house and received donations of items that would been used during that time period.
Unfortunately I was not able to take pictures of the basement. If you want to see what the interior looks like, check out this article.
As for the rest house, were able to tour the first floor. The rest of the floors were not safe enough to explore. So the Garden Club collected everything that was stored in the upper floors and put them on display through the first floor.
Throughout the upper levels, the Garden Club found personal items and even shipping crates that have been hiding in the upper levels for over a hundred years.
One of the more interesting pieces was the old piano crate that Miss Julia had shipped from her family home to her new place. It is still there along with the piano down in the basement.
As the Garden Club inventoried the upper floors, they collected tools and supplies that where left behind when the northerners fled north. They believe many of the tools left behind hadn’t moved from their final resting spot for over a hundred years!
One of the first things Dr. Huller did was to seal up the upper floors to keep the weather out. Another feature I wanted to mention was the brick work. Originally the plans called to have the brick plastered over as with many houses of the time.
The Out Door Kitchen
As with most homes of this era, the kitchen is outdoors. Currently the kitchen looks like a garage and is used for outdoor utility equipment and storage. The kitchen is still there but only the fire place and cistern are left. They have paved over the old brick foundation and the wood sides are old and moldy.
The old fire place still has the original pot holder and tea kettle hanging. There’s no telling how long this tea kettle has been hanging there waiting to brew another pot full.
Slave and Servant Quarters
The slave and servant quarters were built before the main house was built. It was to house the family until the main house was completed. After the war started and construction was halted, the Nutt family completed and furnished the basement so they could live in more luxury and in hopes the rest of the house could be completed.
Although the slave quarters looks to be a two story building from the access road, it was built on the side of hill so they could have 3 stories on the back side of the building.
The Carriage House
The carriage house is the last building and is just past the slave quarters. The carriage house hasn’t changed much from the original design. The building sits on the edge of a hill and the back half is hanging over the edge of a hill. It is supported by brick columns. Instead of a small ramp that would have been setup so the carriages could have easily been pushed up and into the house, it now has a small step.
The carriage house does have several carriages, wagons, and farm related wagons on display, but this one is the only one in good shape. Just needs a new seat cushion and few other small things.
In addition to having wagons on display, it also has a small display of tools that came from the plantation or would been use during the time of this plantation home.
At the southwest corner of the clearing for the main yard and drive to the yard, you will find a small gravel path that leads to a very small, well tended family cemetery.
Down that dark and quiet path you will find a small set of grave markers belonging to the Nutt family.
The oldest grave markers are of Dr. Haller Nutt and his wife, Julia, in the center with their family and future generations surrounding them in their final resting places.
The Nutt Family History
At some point, I will write up a family history of the Nutt Family, but for now, check out this great article that is all about the Nutt Family and their history.
The Longwood Plantation is located at 140 Lower Woodville Road in Natchez, Mississippi. It is open daily, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.