No matter how much you hear about Longwood Plantation before you actually visit for a tour, nothing can really prepare you for what you find inside. This six-story, 30,000 square foot mansion was designed by Samuel Sloan, a well-known architect from Philadelphia for cotton baron Haller Nutt and his wife, Julia.
Construction on Longwood began in 1859. It came to an abrupt halt in 1861 when word reached the workmen that the War Between the States (aka Civil War) had begun. When the Philadelphia artisans working inside were told about the war, they immediately laid down their tools where they were standing and left, never to return.
For many years the tools lay right where they left them. On this trip we found they had been moved but my friend, Linda who was touring Longwood with me, and has toured it several times in years past, remembered seeing them scattered all about on previous tours.
Linda generously shared the photos she took that day with me and I’m glad she did. When I started going through mine to create this post, I noticed I was so busy concentrating on detail shots, I missed getting some of the larger room views inside. Linda’s photos are watermarked, Shared on Between Naps on the Porch while the ones I took are watermarked with the standard, Between Naps on the Porch.net. Thanks so much to Linda for sharing her beautiful photos!
Longwood Plantation was designed in a style known as Moorish Revival, an ornate and exotic architectural style popular at that time with architects in Europe and America due to their fascination with Oriental design. Longwood has the distinction of being the largest octagonal-shaped house in America.
Once completed, the home would have had 32 rooms, 26 fireplaces, 115 doors and 96 columns. Only 9 of the 32 rooms were ever finished and those are all on the lower level/basement of the home. That’s where the family lived for the rest of their lives.
It took more than a million bricks to build Longwood and they were all made on the grounds of the plantation.
Due to its octagonal shape, Longwood has many beautiful balconies.
What is it about Spanish Moss. Everything is just a little more romantic and enchanting when viewed through its soft, swaying arms.
On the front porch of Longwood, we get a look at a few of the 96 columns surrounding the home.
Wow! So beautiful!
Such a pretty cathedral window over the front door.
So, are you ready to go inside? Brace yourself, the outside completely betrays that which awaits within.
Longwood would have been awe-inspiring inside if it had ever been completed. Even though Haller Nutt was a union sympathizer, he lost his fortune as a result of the war. He died of pneumonia in 1864, three years after the workmen left. Many believe he died of a broken heart.
The next three pictures show the plans for the home. We were allowed to tour the basement rooms, the only furnished rooms in the home and where the Nutts lived the rest of their lives, but unfortunately none of the Natchez plantations would allow photos since another plantation, Stanton Hall, had an item stolen after the home was featured on TV.
All the photos in this post were taken on this level, the main level of the home.
We weren’t allowed to go up the stairs to the 2nd floor of Longwood so I wasn’t able to take any photos upstairs.
Longwood is said to have many ghosts. Julia is often seen on the staircase pictured below while Mr. Nutt haunts the gardens. To learn more about all the ghosts sightings at Longwood, just Google “Longwood Plantation Ghosts” and you’ll find plenty of links. Warning: Don’t do that late in the evening before going to bed. Not a good idea!
I just noticed, this is the only photo I saw in my photos and in Linda’s where an orb is present…and it’s kind of near the steps. Creepy, huh?
In the center of the main level you’ll find an octagonal room that has the rotunda/cupola overhead as previously seen in the exterior views. As you step into the gallery room and look up….
…this is what you see. Cue the goosebumps!!! It gave me chills standing underneath looking up!
Especially after hearing stories of how the home is haunted.
I could almost imagine I was seeing faces staring back down.
The rotunda was designed to have a system of mirrors inside the cupola to reflect sunlight down into many of the rooms. Also, the shape of the cupola was designed to pull hot air upward toward the top of the cupola, creating an updraft drawing fresh air through the lower floors.
You would never guess when seeing these gorgeous windows outside…
…the inside looks like this!
An ancient trunk waiting to be opened…
This is where the men worked mixing and preparing the things they were using to build the home.
Many of the furnishings bought for the home were purchased in Europe and shipped across the Atlantic where they would eventually be delivered to the Nutts via steamboat up the Mississippi River, then via wagon from Natchez.
Packing crates from that time period still remain inside the home.
In this 1936 photo taken by James Butters for the Library of Congress for their Historic American Buildings Survey, you can see at one point the dome lost its finial. If I’m remembering correctly, it happened during a big storm.
Here’s what’s left of the original finial.
The outside has been restored and a new finial was built for the byzantine onion-shaped dome.
In 2010 the Longwood mansion was used in the HBO series, True Blood. In the show it was the fictional Jackson, Mississippi home of Russell Edgington who played a vampire. Is that right? Anyone see the series?
Longwood Plantation is now a house museum, owned by The Pilgrimage Garden Club in Natchez. It’s open for tours year around. I do recommend touring it when you’re next in the area. It truly is unlike any other historic home you’re ever likely to tour. I recommend going in early spring or in the fall when it’s not so hot and muggy.
Love touring historic homes as much as I do? Check out Greenwood Plantation (pictured below) in this previous post: Greenwood Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana You’ll find tours to other historic homes under the Home Tours category at the top of BNOTP and here: Historic Home Tours
Anyone else ever visited Longwood? If so, did it give you chills, too?