Throughout Mississippi, you’ll find a wealth of architectural gems, everywhere from our northern hills to the coast, everything from two-hundred-year-old mansions to unique modern structures, and historic homes that are open for tours throughout the year.
While the city of Natchez is renowned for its architectural riches, one home truly stands out for its design and its history. Longwood is America’s largest octagonal home, incorporating elements of both the Moorish Revival and Italianate styles. Another interesting note – only the first floor of the home was completed because construction was halted due to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art celebrates the life and works of the “Mad Potter of Biloxi,” George Ohr. Ohr was famous for his offbeat personality and eccentric pottery pieces, which are perfectly reflected in the unconventional design of the museum complex and its unique metallic pod structures, all of which were envisioned by the celebrated architect, Frank Gehry. Inside the museum, you’ll find a large selection of Ohr’s ceramic works plus exhibitions featuring a wide range of visual arts.
The Towers of Natchez was first built in 1798 in the West Indies style, with later additions adding Neo-Classical and Italian Renaissance Revival elements. The Towers was used as headquarters for the Federal troops during the Civil War occupation of Natchez. The mansion’s twin upper tower rooms were destroyed by a fire in the 1920s but were recently restored by the property’s current owners.
The Vicksburg National Military Park features 1,325 historic monuments and markers along a 16-mile tour road on the site of the important Civil War battlefield. The Illinois Memorial is especially noteworthy. The memorial’s design was based on that of the Roman Pantheon, incorporating granite and marble from the state of Georgia, and containing sixty bronze tablets bearing the names of Illinois soldiers who participated in the Vicksburg campaign. The memorial was dedicated in 1906.
William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, and lived much of his life at his home, Rowan Oak, located near Oxford in the town of University. Visitors touring the the Greek Revival home will gain a glimpse into the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest novelists and winner of a Nobel Prize for literature and two Pulitzer Prizes. The highlight of the tour is Faulkner’s office, which displays a typewriter the author used to produce many of his works.
Despite his name, the great American playwright, Thomas “Tennessee” Williams, was born in Columbus, Mississippi and first lived in a colorful Victorian-style home that now serves as the Columbus Welcome Center. The house is not in its original location. It was moved to Main Street in 1993 and restored there. The Tennessee Williams Home serves as the official welcome center for the city of Columbus and is open for tours Monday through Saturday.
During the Civil War, the Meridian home called Merrehope was declared by General Sherman to be “too beautiful to burn.” In fact, the home was one of only six Meridian homes to be spared from destruction. The 26-room Greek Revival mansion was built in 1858 and is currently open for tours on select days throughout the year. Group tours are available upon request.