The Lost Dreams & Ghosts of Longwood Plantation

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.

Longwood, Natchez Mississippi

 

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.

Longwood Plantation, Natchez MS

 

It took more than a million bricks to build Longwood and they were all made on the grounds of the plantation.

Verandas adn Porches, Longwood in Natchez Mississippi

 

Due to its octagonal shape, Longwood has many beautiful balconies.

Longwood, Natchez Mississippi

 

What is it about Spanish Moss. Everything is just a little more romantic and enchanting when viewed through its soft, swaying arms.

Longwood Historic Mansion, Natchez Mississippi

 

On the front porch of Longwood, we get a look at a few of the 96 columns surrounding the home.

Porch of Longwood Mansion, Natchez Mississippi

 

Wow! So beautiful!

Ornate Columns, Longwood, Natchez Mississippi

 

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.

Beautiful Cathedral Windows, Historic Longwood Mansion, Natchez Mississippi

 

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.

Unfinished Interior, Longwood in Natchez MS

 

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.

Basement Plans for Longwood Plantation

 

All the photos in this post were taken on this level, the main level of the home.

Longwood Design Plan, Natchez Mississippi

 

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.

Plans for the 2nd Floor of Longwood Plantation

 

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?

Unfinished Interior, Longwood in Natchez MS

 

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….

Unfinished Interior of Longwood. Natchez

 

…this is what you see. Cue the goosebumps!!!  It gave me chills standing underneath looking up!

Cupola in Longwood, Natchez Mississippi

 

Especially after hearing stories of how the home is haunted.

Close View of Unfinished Cupola Longwood, Natchez Mississippi

 

I could almost imagine I was seeing faces staring back down.

Cupola Inside Longwood, Natchez Mississippi

 

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.

Cupola in Longwood, Natchez Mississippi

 

You would never guess when seeing these gorgeous windows outside…

Longwood Historic Mansion, Natchez Mississippi

 

…the inside looks like this!

Unfinished Interior of Longwood in Natchez MS

 

The ceiling…

Ceiling in Unfinished Interior of Longwood, Natchez Mississippi

 

An ancient trunk waiting to be opened…

Longwood Historic Mansion, Natchez Mississippi

 

This is where the men worked mixing and preparing the things they were using to build the home.

Longwood, Natchez Mississippi 10_wm

 

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.

Crates Addressed to Julia Nutt Inside Longwood, Natchez Home

 

Packing crates from that time period still remain inside the home.

Crates Addressed to Julia Nutt Longwood, Natchez 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.

Longwood, Natchez, by James Butters for Library of Congress Historic American Building Survey, 04-14-36

 

Here’s what’s left of the original finial.

Fallen Finial From Cupola,Longwood, Natchez Mississippi

 

The outside has been restored and a new finial was built for the byzantine onion-shaped dome.

Cupola and Finial Atop Longwood Plantation, Natchez MS_wma

 

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, Natchez Mississippi

 

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.

Longwood Historic Mansion, Natchez Mississippi 15

 

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

Greenwood Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana

 

Anyone else ever visited Longwood? If so, did it give you chills, too?




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Comments

  1. We toured Longwood in 1998 and it was so amazing! The tools were still there in the upper floors and we actually got to see them. No ghosts were seen, but we were there in March and when we toured, we (six of us, me, my husband, son, daughter-in-law, daughter and son-in-law) were the only ones on the tour so we had lots of time to view. It was lovely and at the same time, quite sad.

    • It is sad. I can’t imagine how Julia Nutt felt living the rest of her life out in the basement of the home, surrounded by their broken dreams overhead. I think I would have had to move, especially after Mr. Nutt died. One of the sadest parts of touring plantation homes is listening to docents name all the folks who died of yellow fever and illnesses like pneumonia that are so curable today. We really have it good today!

  2. Pamela H. says:

    I visited Longwood about 1979-1980 with my family. We did see tools where they were left all those years ago and I wish they were still in their original spots. It made an impact to see them and think back to the day the workers left the area. Too bad today’s visitors can not have the same experience. Seeing the shipping crates , nail barrels and trunk trigger lots of emotions though. I would have loved to see one of the former owners, but did not. Maybe Ghost Hunters will visit one day.

  3. Pamela H. says:

    Guess I need a typing lesson — change 1998 to 1979

  4. I am taking this week off so pretend I am not here! I just wanted to share with you that I live an hour from Natchez! My daughter April worked for the newspaper as an intern last summer. She wrote articles and did some photography. She has an article in the late summer 2013 Natchez The Magazine. The article “Stepping Stones In Time”. The article goes on to discuss the area’s most significant historic sites. Just thought you might wanna know!!

  5. I visited Longwood about 25 years. Such a heartbreaking story. Yes, it gave me chills as well. Such craftsmanship in this gorgeous plantation. It was my 30th birthday! We stayed in a lovely B&B on the Mississippi River.

    • Did it look pretty much like it does today when you visited, Mary? It is a very sad tale. Almost every home we toured had a sad story in there somewhere.

      • Yes, Susan, it looked just as you saw.
        I know, so many sad stories. Such grand homes but I believe their lives were tough. I live just a block from the Mississippi River just outside of New Orleans. Destrehan Plantation is about 30 minutes from me. Elmwood Plantation was only 5 minutes away. It burned down a number of years ago and now has about 5 homes on the site. I have a print of Elmwood in my den. Perhaps, I can take a picture and email you?

  6. Peggy Thal says:

    All I can say is Wow! Amazing and gorgeous home . The floor plan is very exciting, I really like it. It would be wonderful to see it furnished – maybe a Designer Showcase Home. It would be fantastic. I think the ghosts make it more exciting. My husband and I stayed in a few large historical places in Virginia that had ghosts. The mansions always had a good vibe. One supposedly had as many as 23 ghosts- Berry Hill Plantation in South Bosten, Virginia. Loved your tour once again, Susan. Thank you.

    • Peggy, I kept thinking that I wish someone would build it today so we could see the Nutt’s dream home come to life. Wouldn’t that be awesome?! The ghost do def make it more exciting…maybe a little too exciting. lol Wow, 23 ghosts! I’ll have to google Berry Hill and read about it. Thanks, Peggy!

  7. Now that’s one of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard! Such a beautiful exterior! One can only wonder about the grandeur that would have been in the interior, if not for the war!

  8. Bonjour chère amie,

    Je viens de passer un très agréable moment à admirer vos merveilleuses photos accompagnées de vos commentaires concernant cette magnifique propriété.
    Une architecture impressionnante.
    Nul doute qu’il est très intéressant de pouvoir visiter une telle demeure.

    Je vous souhaite un bel été.
    Gros bisous ♡

    • Here’s a babelfish translaton of what Martine posted:

      Hello friend, I just spent a very pleasant moment to admire your wonderful photos along with your comments on this beautiful property.
      Impressionnan architecture
      There is no doubt that it is very interesting to visit such remains.
      I wish you a great summer.
      Big kisses

  9. We toured Longwood a few years ago during the spring pilgrimage. Natchez has many very interesting homes and is a beautiful city.

  10. Linda Page says:

    OK, Susan, you are making me want to go to Natchez again….but then it doesn’t take much to make me want to go there. I’m so glad that you could use some of my pics. Wonderful tour. Let me know when you are ready to go back!!!!! I’m in Salt Lake City for a Stampin’ Up! Convention and we did a bus tour of the city and, oh my gosh, there are some beautiful old mansions and Victorian homes that I would love to sneak inside. You and I are definitely romantics at heart!!!!

  11. I live in Jackson and have made frequent trips to Natchez. Longwood has always been a favorite spot and I am sad to learn that the tools have been moved – they were still strewn about when I was there last. There are so many interesting stories around there, one of which is Prospect Hill Plantation. The abandoned house near Port Gibson is getting some long overdue attention finally. The history of the place involves the owner’s decision to have all of his slaves freed after his death and sent to Liberia as part of the Colonization movement. Burning Prospects by Melissa Miles is a great historic novel based on the story and she is a direct descendant of plantation owner Isaac Ross. I enjoyed revisiting Longwood with you!

    • Marsha, were they also strewn about on the main level when you visited…the one shown in this post? We weren’t allowed upstairs so the tools may still be that way up there, but downstairs, they were not scattered around now. I think Linda told me they used be on that level, too. Wonder if they felt it was a tripping hazard or something. Prospect Hill sounds fascinating…will Google and read more about that. Thanks for sharing that info!

  12. I visited Longwood many years ago when I was a little girl. This may sound a little foolish, but I’ve always wished someone would complete the mansion. I would love to see the different rooms fixed up! Pipe dreams, I know!

    • Me too, Mary. Or at least build it somewhere else. Maybe one day someone will decide to build one like it…would love to see that.

    • Deb Snider says:

      Mary, a spectacular, abandoned house has recurred in dreams for many years. Turns out it is Longwood. My strongest memories are of the shafts of light coming through the gaps in the dome, and birds flying inside. In the dreams, the dome roof is decaying and the central portion of house is succumbing to water damage. Second story and up never completed. The only area still habitable was the first floor gallery of rooms, and occupied by a loose-knit group, perhaps squatters. The basement area was never visited, in my dreams. I did make a trip along the Natchez trace in early childhood, and we visiting some antebellum mansions. I seem to remember Longwood – it was not open for tours, but it seems there was an elderly black man onsite as a caretaker (note that “elderly” is relative, given the eyes of a child). I seem to remember he allowed us to look inside the home (hence, perhaps, my memory of the dome), but would not allow us to tour the house (which causes me to wonder why the floor plan is so familiar, in dreams). Does any of this ring a bell? I’m very curious about this unexpected familiarity with Longwood. No family history there, that I know of. But I get a pit-in-the-stomach response to the old photos during the worst of times for Longwood. As though I was there. In the dreams, I lived there during the period of decay, and the dreams were before I found where “there” was. In your experience, is this common? Maybe I’m crazy, but I’m remembering something. It came before I found the place. But it could be a very elaborate embroidery of a childhood memory.

      My visit to Longwood (if there was one) would have been in early ’60’s. Was there a black caretaker on site then? Just trying to figure out what is real, and what I’ve imagined.

      • Deb, maybe you saw a TV program about it when you were small? Or saw pictures in a book and it triggered the dreams. It’s a spooky place to go inside.

  13. i love seeing historic homes. when we travel i try to see if they’re are any around. my husband who is usually my traveling companion does not share my enthusiasm for this activity. i just checked your page for historic homes and that is a helpful resource. is there any particular publication that one could find these homes and also are there any travel groups that a woman alone could join to see them? i would appreciate any advice you or your followers can supply. thanks. ann

    • Ann, I don’t know of any travel groups off hand. Here in the state of Georgia, The Georgia Trust puts on two excellent rambles each year and you see a lot of homes on those. In Natchez they have pilgrimage tours in the spring. If you have a particular city/town in mind where you would love to tour the old homes, you may want to contact their historical society or their Chamber of Commerce and asked where you can find info about tours. Several towns/cities in GA have Christmas home tours, also. There are a good many books out there showcasing historic homes in various cities. If you have a particular home in mind, they probably have their own website for that house and you can get info there, too. There are a gazillion books on Amazon about historic homes in LA and MS, too…many I never knew about until I purchased some of the books. Hope that info helps a little.

  14. Charlotte says:

    Such a sad story. I have never visited the Plantations in MS, need to get a road trip set up for the fall. I would also love to see Longwood finished, but then we would lose that history. The nosy snooper in me wants to see it furnished with all those European antiques. I do think it is historically important to actually see how the Civil War affected families. Makes you stop and think for a minute and feel very blessed for what we have now.

  15. Susan, that gave me the same chills as some of the neglected stately homes and castles in Europe. I would feel so let down touring the interior after seeing the wonderful exterior.
    A few years ago, I toured, all on my own, no one else around, a ruined castle with walls still standing (my hubby doesn’t like them either) and high in the battlements, there was a room which was complete, upon which walls there were very old hand paintings. By this time, I was feeling really creepy and jumped a mile when I came upon a student sitting on the floor copying the painting!!!
    .

  16. Pat Cobb says:

    What a sad story. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week!

  17. Renee' Martin says:

    We toured this plantation as week as the others in Natchez. Loved them all!

  18. Oh how sad and tragic. It is still a magnificent home. Just makes you wonder what could have been. I love the Historical home tours. Thanks so much for sharing.

  19. Thank for sharing another beautiful home with us. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone took on the project of building a model of the home as it would have appear had it ever been finished?
    It’s such a shame that there are a few people in the world who feel entitiled to take a ‘souvenier’ from wherever they happen to be touring. I volunteer at an historic home in Portland, Oregon and when we were setting up a new display one of the paid staff was saying that even though these home-canned goods were behind a glass doors they expected that a certain number of them would just walk out the door.

  20. I used to live in Natchez and Longwood was a favorite of mine. Yes, the tools and even the dried up paint in the buckets shouted such a melancholy, mournful story in such a quiet, serene setting. So haunting…so lovely…so lonely.

  21. Laura Jaco says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this post and photos of Longwood. We toured Longwood in March of 1984 while on our honeymoon in Natchez. I have many of the same photos. As I remember, one of the crates had contained a piano which was not opened until the 1980’s. Longwood’s story has always been so interesting and so sad.

  22. belladonna says:

    Hi Susan this beautiful home reminds me so of the castle Neuschwanstein in Barvaria , we visited it in 2012 and it was stunning but the story of King Leopold who spent all of his countries money on his castles and died before it could be completed was so sad. It is worth looking up though , I felt the same wish that it could be finished and lived in.

  23. Nice post, Susan!

    I sure have not seen something like this around Downtown Charleston! If there was, it would have been a big attraction, even for a place with a number of old homes.

    Incomplete, the house manages to amaze still. Its grandness in sheer size and exotic design will simply catch the eyes from the outside. But, spooky as the unfinished interiors are, you can still see the genius of the plan behind the construction. If only the house was completed, it would have been such a wonder to behold – haunted or not. I really love seeing the combination of bricks, wood, and glass in these old homes. They make a house look so lovely and full of character. I would have loved a tour inside this house, maybe I’ll go there someday too.

    Thanks for sharing this, Susan!

  24. Susan,
    You have brought back wonderful memories of my trip south in 1983. I went with my parent (now both passed) and spent 3 days in Natchez for the Garden Tour. The costumed guides were wonderful and the antique shops were such fun. I will have to locate the photos I took on that trip and see if I can scan them an send them.
    We also stayed overnight at Nottoway Plantation in White Castle LA. Unforgettable.

    rick

  25. I love this place..been to a couple parties here.my husband george samrow rebuilt the finial.that was something to see.he’s in the museum section putting it up.I have pic of him drawing it out and installing it.he’s gone now but he left his mark all over natchez and la..

  26. Jennifer Smith says:

    We stopped 2 days ago and toured the home and grounds. The price of admission was RIDICULOUS for what you get to see ($60 for 2 adults and 2 children). We weren’t allowed to take any pics of the living area in the basement, or given any time to view pictures or objects in the rooms. We were marched in, told a brief description of the room, and marched out. No one is allowed to go into the home without being in a tour group and escorted by a Garden Club member…and these weren’t the most warm and friendly ladies to be around. The entire $60 tour took almost 20 minutes. The house slave quarters are closed, locked, and off limits. The regular slave quarters aren’t even mentioned. I learned more about the home and family online and after the tour. You must pay before even seeing the exterior of the home, and you can’t just walk the grounds without the garden “ladies” getting your money. I certainly won’t go back. This is the most expensive plantation tour I’ve ever taken, and I’ve been on dozens, and seen MUCH nicer. There are numerous other homes in Natchez and in nearby St. Francisville to visit without dealing with this mess.

    • We had a similar experience, it may be because it’s mostly run by volunteers, I think. I’m glad I saw it but it was disappointing that we weren’t allowed to take any photos in the areas that were furnished. This was probably my least favorite tour out of all the ones we took.

      My favorites were Greenwood Plantation (super friendly and so nice there!) Rosedown Plantation (gorgeous home and you could take all the pictures you wanted) and Oak Alley…again could take all the photos you wanted. The French Quarter home of General L. Kemper and Leila Williams was also wonderful. You can see the tours I’ve posted so far from my trip to LA and MS here: http://betweennapsontheporch.net/category/home-tours/louisiana/

      I’ve never have gotten around to posting all of them…need to do that!

  27. Jim christensen says:

    Revisited Longwood around the year 2000. Exxon on Bob Vila show and we are there in the next week touring. It was absolutely amazing and I believe it is haunted. When we got home I was viewing the video that we shot from outside and on the third story window of the house you could see the figure of somebody moving around upstairs in the window. Zoomed in on the camera actually when we were there and it looks like somebody wearing a 1860 style suit.

  28. Michelle Drummond says:

    I visited Longwood in 1981. I was 14 yrs old. I have never forgotten it. Thank you for this post. It brings back a lot of memories.

  29. Yes, my husband and I viewed it a few years ago while we were visiting Natchez (one of our favorite getaways) and yes it does give you the chills. So sad it was never completed. So very interesting to visit. Also we visited Melrose plantation while we were there. The guide told us one of the children had died in one of the up stairs bedroom. When we made it upstairs it was quite a different feeling from downstairs talk about giving you the chills. It was a very sad feeling and cold. Beautiful home, I don’t know that I would want to visit it again.

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