For immediate release
From Beth Richard, Library Director
Carolyn Vance Smith, Natchez Literary Research Center
Willie Mae Dunn, Library
Copiah-Lincoln Community College
“Living with History” is a multi-faceted, free, public event that will celebrate two things:
- A new book, Natchez Style: Architecture, Decorative Arts, Entertaining
- The people whose historic houses are featured in the 370-page volume
The event kicks off at 5 p.m., Nov. 29, at the Carolyn Vance Smith Natchez Literary Research Center at the Willie Mae Dunn Library, Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez.
Copies of the hardback, full-color book, published by the Pilgrimage Garden Club, will be sold at $50, discounted from the cover price of $60.
All sales proceeds will benefit ongoing restoration projects of two Pilgrimage Garden Club National Historic Landmarks, Stanton Hall and Longwood.
Honorees are the creators of the book, chef Regina Charboneau, architect William Bradley and businesswoman Bridget Green, all of Natchez, and photographer Manny Rodriguez of Dallas, Texas.
Also to be honored are the owners of the 27 houses featured in the book, who will also be available to sign copies.
During this informal time, refreshments will be served.
At 5:30 p.m., Carter Burns, executive director of the Historic Natchez Foundation, will speak on how these important houses represent Natchez’s history and culture.
Next will be Regina Charboneau, who will speak about the purpose of the new book and how it is designed to include histories and photographs of the houses, typical menus, entertainment, and recipes for those menus.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from Marsha Cohen, a direct descendant of George Marshall, who built the mansion Lansdown in 1853, and whose home has been open to the public since Spring Pilgrimage began in 1932. Deborah Cosey will also speak, as she and her husband opened their home, Concord Quarters, for Pilgrimage for the first time in 2016. The Coseys bought Concord Quarters several years ago and have restored it.
“I grew up living amidst beautiful furnishings,” Colson said. “Lansdowne has original wallpaper, drapes, carpets and family heirlooms.
“Although I learned about the furnishings and the family history at an early age as my family members welcomed tourists, I didn’t really appreciate any of it until as a young adult I lived in California for about 10 years.
“When I brought home my California friends — people who had never visited this part of the country — I was worried that they would see the cracks in the walls and the damaged and faded wallpaper,” Colson said.
“But they were amazed at the beauty of the property that we have been so fortunate to maintain.
“I saw Lansdowne through their eyes, and now that I see it from a broader perspective, I love and appreciate the place even more.”
Deborah Cosey’s recollections about Concord Quarters present a different view of Natchez history.
“Concord Quarters was built in the 1820s specifically to house enslaved people,” Cosey said. The building stood adjacent to the 1789 Concord mansion, which burned in 1901.
“To live with history at Concord Quarters feels like we are in a place of healing the ugly past, a place reclaimed for a better future,” Deborah Cosey said.
“One would think that our home would be dark and angry, but it’s bright and shiny,” she said. “Former occupants of this home, such as George and Charity Morton, are delighted that we are here.”
Cosey says she and her husband glorify the enslaved people of the quarters.
“Gregory and I chose to live with the past here at Concord Quarters and not let it be destroyed,” Deborah Cosey said.
“Living with history allows us to share many stories of the past with people from all around the world.”
The Carolyn Vance Smith Natchez Literary Research Center holds thousands of books, monographs, articles, photographs, correspondence and other artifacts.
“Each item mentions Natchez,” said Beth Richard, library director. “We welcome students, scholars, researchers and the general public to use these items and to donate to the library.”
The Center is open free to the public when the college is in session. The November 29 book event is one of a series of events celebrating books that feature or include Natchez.