Spend a day visiting the places listed below to see and to think about how life developed and evolved over a period of approximately 800 years all contained in an area of about a 5 mile radius. Best of all, all the things below are free!
The area near Brandon Hall is rich in history and can be traced back to 1300 A.D. The close proximity of Emerald Mound, the Natchez Trace, Mount Locust, Church Hill, and Brandon Hall suggests that the area had been farmed by the Natchez Indians and their Mississippian ancestors before European settlement.
Emerald Mound is the second largest Indian mound in the United States. Only Cahokia in Illinois is larger. The mound evolved from a village atop a natural knoll into a major ceremonial center associated with the prehistoric Plaquemine culture, the predecessor of the Natchez Indians. The mound is 8 acres in size and was occupied between 1300 and 1600. The drawing depicts the site when it was an important ceremonial center. Emerald Mound is managed by the National Park Service. Emerald Mount is mile marker 10.3 on the Natchez Trace.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic 440-mile parkway operated by the National Park Service. It both commemorates and roughly parallels the historic road from Nashville to Natchez. Old sections (pictured above) are visible along the way. The Trace was originally an old animal and Indian trail that connected the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Natchez Indian nations. The federal government improved the road as a federal post road after the Spanish ceded the Natchez area to the United States in 1798. The creation of both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Natchez Trace Parkway were authorized by Congress in the 1930s. Today, visitors can enjoy not only a scenic drive but also hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping. As you can see, The Natchez Trace Parkway is more than a scenic drive and Brandon Hall is proud to be a part of it.
Mount Locust, the ancestor of all plantation houses in Mississippi, on the Natchez Trace dates to the 1770s and functioned both as a home for a planter and his family and as an inn for travelers on the Natchez Trace. The house, which is owned and interpreted by the National Park Service, rests upon wood stumps, and its gallery features chamfered posts on the front and rear galleries. It is one of the oldest structures in Mississippi.
Window and door arrangement is asymmetrical, typical of its early period and reflecting functional rather than aesthetic priorities. The house also exhibits such early features as a broken slope roof, hand-wrought or rose-headed nails, board-and-batten doors, strap hinges, interior walls finished in boards rather than plaster, beaded siding, and the use of blue poplar as well as cypress wood. Mount Locust is located at mile post 15.5 on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Beyond the city limits of Natchez is the picturesque undulating countryside that once contained numerous plantations whose owners lived full time on their cotton-producing land. The lifestyles of these planters, the rural gentry, contrasted with the lifestyles of Natchez’s richest planters, often referred to as Natchez Nabobs, who generally preferred life in or near town to life on the isolated cotton plantations that were the source of their wealth.
Since a trip to Natchez on horseback or in the family carriage or wagon might take half a day or more, plantation families formed loosely knit communities. Church Hill was one of several nineteenth-century plantation communities in the Natchez area. These communities usually spawned churches that were the focal point and the center of social life. The churches were usually picturesque vernacular interpretations of high style ecclesiastical architecture like Gothic Revival Christ Church at Church Hill, which is the oldest Episcopal congregation in the state. Sited on a high knoll overlooking the surrounding countryside, Christ Church is the obvious source of the Church Hill community’s name. The existing church, built in 1857, is the second church on the site and the third building occupied by the congregation.