It’s a dramatic experience to travel up the long curving driveway toward Monmouth Historic Inn & Gardens. The early 19th-century antebellum mansion in Natchez, Mississippi, is a National Historic Landmark. It is set on 26 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.
Accommodations are available in the main house or in any of the seven outbuildings. I am assigned to one of the pond garden cottages. The two-bedroom suite is filled with lovely furnishings and luxurious accoutrements.
As soon as I settled in my suite, I took a long walk around the pond and into the gardens past flowering magnolias, roses, and azaleas.
The mansion was built in 1818. According to its literature, “Monmouth evolved from rough timber, mortar, nails, and brick to a stately antebellum, suburban villa built from the labor of human hands both free and enslaved.
“Over the span of more than 190 years of existence, Monmouth witnessed generations of births and deaths, as the home and workplace of slaves, tenant farmers, American statesmen, businessmen and enterprising housewives, all contributing to its historic saga as one generation passed from view and the next took its place.”
John Quitman was Monmouth's most prominent occupant. The lawyer served as a conquering general and military hero in the nation's war with Mexico, as the state’s governor, in the Mississippi state legislature, and in the U.S. Congress.
John A. Quitman died in 1858 leaving his 49-year-old widow Eliza to care for their children, Monmouth household duties, and stewardship of four plantations and the hundreds of enslaved individuals. This great responsibility, however, was short lived. In 1859, she too passed away.
After the Civil War, Monmouth fell into disrepair. In 1978, the home was purchased and restored to the 1830's period; many pieces found in the house were discovered to be original Quitman pieces. Today, the historic renovation of Monmouth continues.
The mansion, guest rooms and suites are all beautiful and welcoming, but it is the friendliness and professional manner of the estate’s employees that make you feel welcome.