Steve Markos 2 years ago 0.0 Your rating: I am a writer and photographer for National Park Planner and I visited the Natchez National Historical Park in November 2014. The park was created to preserve the history of Natchez, Mississippi. Natchez served as Mississippi’s first capital and is more than one hundred years older than Jackson, the state’s current capital city. Natchez was one of the busiest slave trading hubs in the south, second only to New Orleans, and was home to more millionaires than any other city in the country. Many of these men built their mansions in Natchez, taking advantage of the high ground above the Mississippi River that was immune to flooding. Its antebellum homes were spared from destruction when the Union army decided to occupy the town after the battle at Vicksburg instead of burning it to the ground. General Grant even made his headquarters in one of the mansions. Natchez now claims to have more antebellum homes than any other city. Two of these homes, both in stark contrast to one another, now make up the Natchez National Historical Park.The Melrose Mansion is the park’s main draw. An ornate palace built in the Greek Revival architectural style, it originally sat in the countryside that surrounded Natchez, but today it resides in what would be the suburbs. The mansion was built in the 1840s and served as the home of plantation owner John McMurran (being a home, this is not the site of a farming plantation). Visitors can tour the mansion with a park Ranger and walk around the grounds, which include “out buildings” such as slave quarters, a stable, and a carriage house. A garden is also on the property. Melrose is one of many antebellum mansions open to the public in Natchez.Unlike the glamorous home of John McMurran, the William Johnson house can easily be mistaken for a brick office building in downtown Natchez. Johnson was born into slavery, being the child of his white master and black slave mother. However, it appears that he was raised as part of the family. He was freed by his father when he was eleven. Johnson’s claim to fame is that he wrote a daily diary for sixteen years, from 1835 until he was murdered in 1851. This was during a time when it was illegal for blacks to read or write. Packed away for years, the diaries were discovered and published in 1951 and are considered among the finest written accounts of daily life in a small, antebellum town. Johnson went on to become quite wealthy as a barber, operating three shops in Natchez and the surrounding area. He was also a slave owner. His home is now open to the pubic, with a museum about his life on the lower floor and his living quarters on the upper floor. Visitors are allowed to tour the living quarters on their own. A park Ranger is on duty to answer any questions.A third property, the site of Fort Rosalie, is not yet open to the public but should be ready by 2016. However, there are no remains of the fort, so the area will serve more as a park.For complete information on the park and plenty of quality photos, please visit National Park Planner (npplan. you know what).