Take a Walk through History in Mississippi’s Historic Homes

History buffs will find a lot to love and learn in Mississippi, from exceptional history museums to Native American ceremonial mounds and Civil War battlefields. For a truly immersive experience, however, visitors can tour homes throughout the state that are important not only for their historical merit, but also their architectural and cultural importance.

Exterior view of Longwood in Natchez, Mississippi.
Longwood in Natchez, Mississippi. Photo credit: Visit Mississippi

The city of Natchez is a particularly worthy destination thanks to its status as the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River and home to more than 1,000 historic properties. Every year, the city draws crowds of visitors to the Natchez Garden Club’s Spring and Fall Pilgrimages, which include tours of private homes built during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Other historic homes are open for tours throughout the year. One of the most impressive is certainly Longwood, a six-story, 30,000-square-foot Oriental style villa. It is the largest octagonal home in America. Construction on the home began in 1860 but work on its interior was abruptly halted due to the outbreak of the Civil War, leaving only the basement level completed and furnished. During the home tour, visitors will see abandoned construction tools left behind by workers and learn historical context about plantation life for the household’s enslaved laborers.

The Towers of Natchez is one of Natchez’s oldest homes and one of the most beautiful. The mansion was first built in 1798 in the West Indies style, with later additions adding Neo-Classical and Italian Renaissance Revival elements. Its signature twin upper tower rooms were destroyed by a fire in the 1920s but recently restored to their original glory. The home is privately owned, but available for tours on select days of each month.

The city of Vicksburg, during the summer of 1863, was the site of a 47-day siege that marked a decisive turning point in the American Civil War. Despite intense fighting and bombardment by Union artillery, several historic homes escaped damage, including the majestic Cedar Grove mansion. While the home was likely spared from destruction because it served as a Union hospital, it was hit by a stray cannonball that remains lodged in its front parlor wall to this day. Today, Cedar Grove is a bed-and-breakfast inn, with guided tours of the Inn’s sister properties, Duff Green Mansion and McRaven available for purchase.

Exterior view of Eudora Welty's house.
The Eudora Welty House. Photo credit: Visit Mississippi

Three historic homes in Mississippi are notable for their famous and influential literary residents. University, Mississippi, located just outside of Oxford, is where you’ll find Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner. The modified primitive Greek Revival style was constructed in the 1840s and currently operates as a museum dedicated to the life and writings of the legendary American author. Tennessee Williams’ former home, in Columbus, also operates as a museum and serves as the official welcome center for the city. The Victorian home was built in 1875. Finally, in Jackson, the Eudora Welty House is a Tudor-revival home that served as Welty’s home until the author’s death in 2001. A guided tour of the home and a self-guided tour of its gardens are available.

Learn more about Mississippi’s historic homes and intriguing architecture at VisitMississippi.org/Architecture.