Pilgrimage Garden Club Hosts 39th Annual Natchez Antiques Forum in Historic City

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Event set for November 3-5, 2016

Few places are as unique in history as Natchez, Mississippi, which this year is celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding in 1716. With a culture influenced by Native Americans; the French, who were the first European settlers; their Spanish and English successors; and planters and African-American slavery of the early 1800s, Natchez developed a treasure trove of early 19th century architecture, artifacts and decorative art. That provenance and its history will be the focus of the 2016 Natchez Antiques Forum, whose theme is Natchez at 300: Toward New Horizons in Decorative Arts 1716-2016. The Antiques Forum will be held on November 3 through 5, 2016.

The forum is sponsored by the Pilgrimage Historical Association with the assistance of the Pilgrimage Garden Club. Proceeds from the events help fund restoration projects at the National Historic Landmarks Longwood and Stanton Hall.

A special treat for participants will be the pre-conference tour of Foster Mound and surrounding colonial area Thursday, Nov. 3. Historian James Wiggins, Jr., a retired professor at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, will present an introduction to the history of Indian mound culture and European settlement. Mr. Wiggins has been a well-received speaker at Natchez’s 300th birthday celebration lectures due to his voluminous knowledge of the area and he has taught evening classes for the general public on slavery, the Civil War and reconstruction. His 30-minute presentation will take place at the Natchez Convention Center at 10:30 a.m. after which participants will visit Foster Mound, built in 1783 atop one of the two 15th century mounds in the area, and Glen Mary, built in 1850. There, a picnic luncheon with planter’s punch and food from all three cultures will be served. During the tour Natchez mayor Darryl Grennell will tell the story of Prince Ibrahima, who was captured in Africa, sold to Col. Thomas Foster of Foster Mound, and eventually freed with the assistance of a Scottish doctor who happened to recognize The Prince on the streets of Natchez. A trip to historic Jefferson College, established in 1803 on land donated by the Fosters, is also on the agenda.

Thursday evening the forum will hold a cocktail buffet at Longwood.

The forum will officially begin Friday, Nov. 4, with presentations by Daniel Fate Brooks, Director (retired) of Arlington Historic House in Birmingham, AL., and Ron and Mimi Miller with the Historic Natchez Foundation.

Not to be missed is a lecture on American Indian culture and the difference between “art” and “artifacts” by Megan Kassabaum, Curator, American Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia PA.

Natchez was one of the wealthiest communities in the United States before the Civil War and that wealth created a large demand for luxury furnishings and art from Pennsylvania and New York. Three lectures explore that relationship. Friday, Nov. 4, Natchez native Joanna Biglane McNeel, formerly with the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, will speak about prominent Pennsylvania portrait artist James Lambdin who worked in Natchez every winter between 1830 and 1960.

Also Friday, Nicholas Powers, Curator of Collections, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, VA, will discuss Philadelphia furniture makers and their Natchez clients.

Friday’s activities end with a gala dinner at Stanton Hall planned by chefs Regina Charboneau and Bingo Starr.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, Jackie Killian, Officer, Major Gifts, Winterthur Museum, DE, will talk about New York cabinet makers and their Natchez. Lydia Blackmore, Decorative Arts Curator at the Historic New Orleans Collection, will highlight the HNOC’s materials from Natchez.

Saturday afternoon three historic homes in Natchez--Green Leaves, Richmond and Elms Court--will be open for tours where forum speakers will be on hand to discuss their research under the auspices of the Historic Natchez Foundation, Historic New Orleans Foundation and the Cultural Institute of the South. Part of that research was funded by the Decorative Arts Trust.

A special treat at Elms Court will be a five-year retrospective of landscape artist Sharon Richardson’s art.

Tickets for Thursday lecture and tour are $100. Tickets for the Longwood buffet dinner Thursday, a Carriage House luncheon on Friday, lectures Friday and Saturday and tour Saturday afternoon are $300 with special pricing of $150 for local residents and members of the Pilgrimage Garden Club and Natchez Garden Club. Also tickets to individual lectures can be purchased for $25 at the door. Individual tickets for the Carriage house luncheon and cocktail buffet at Longwood are $25; the gala dinner Nov. 4 ticket is $100.

Tickets can be obtained online at natchezantiquesforum.org; at the Natchez Pilgrimage Tours counter at the Natchez Visitor Center or by call NPT at 601-446-6631; or by calling Registrar Jan Scarborough at 601-443-1261.

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Andrew Fox