Monday, July 14, 2014

The Fate of the Mamie S. Barrett

About 17 miles downriver from Natchez, on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River, the rusty, vine-covered hulk of an abandoned steamboat rests in the shade of an old cottonwood tree near the small community of Deer Park, Louisiana, just a few yards away from a cut-off of the river. 

It is truly a sight to behold, and when I saw it for the first time, it took my breath away.

The old steamer, known as the “Mamie S. Barrett,” was built in 1921, and its “claim to fame” occurred in 1942, when it proudly served as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s headquarters as he toured and inspected the Mississippi River.
Through the years, the “Mamie” has been used as a towboat, a clubhouse and restaurant for a yacht club, a touring vessel, an attraction at a resort on a Kentucky lake, and was even owned by a Gulf Coast casino management company.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 28, 1983.

In 1987, the riverboat was purchased by John and Mary Hosemann, and was brought to Vicksburg, Mississippi, on November 5th of that year. She was converted to a showboat with a 120-seat theater on the main deck and a restaurant on the second deck.  She remained in Vicksburg until 1991.

The following picture  shows how the "Mamie" looked in 1921, and in 1983, when she was docked at Vicksburg.

The “Mamie” was eventually moved to Vidalia, Louisiana Dock and Storage, opposite Natchez, and in the mid-1990s, she was taken to the cut-off at Deer Park, some 17 miles downriver from Natchez.
She has remained there ever since … a 146-foot shell of a steamboat which once carried a President, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places … fated to become yet another piece of history, abandoned and forgotten, rapidly deteriorating and surrendering to the ravages of time and weather.


To read a more detailed account of the story of the “Mamie S. Barrett,” you can visit at Mamie S. Barrett.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Curb Appeal -- Natchez Style

Natchez, Mississippi, is a photographer's treasure trove of "pictures waiting to be taken."  I never fail to find new and interesting things and places to capture with my camera when I'm there.  My favorite subjects to photograph are the houses of Natchez ... both great and small, and I'd like to share a few of the pictures I captured on a recent photo shoot.

Crape Myrtles aren't the only colorful things to be found in Natchez. These three brightly-painted houses have almost a tropical look to them, complete with palm trees and banana plants.  According to the Historic Resources Inventory of Mississippi Department of Archives and History, these three houses were built in 1910, and are part of the “Upriver Residential Historic District.”


Holly Hedges, ca 1796 (or possibly 1818) 
The side garden features an English boxwood garden in the shape of a British flag.

Cherokee, ca 1794-1810
 I love the ivy-covered steps leading up to the house.
 This next house is surrounded by magnificent old live oak trees, and is for sale for $425,000.

This stately Victorian has recently undergone an amazing transformation.
 This is the way it looked in March 2008 ...
Here are some of the other houses that caught my eye as we drove through some of the neighborhoods.

Mellon House, ca 1976-1831
 Mose Beer, ca 1901
 Rehn House, ca 1885
 Rosehaven, ca 1902
Griffith-McComas House, ca 1793

I've saved my favorites for last -- the small cottages and cabins that are found "in the shadows" of the "great houses" that visitors most often choose to tour during their stay in Natchez.   It's these smaller houses, brimming with personality and charm, that seem to call out to me ... with their picket fences and cottage gardens and simple architectural details.  I just can't resist capturing them in pictures, and I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Early 1700s
I love the tin roof over the stoop of this little shotgun house,
and the pretty Crape Myrtle beside the door.

One of my favorite houses in Natchez.
It is especially pretty in the Fall when the leaves on the two
Japanese Maples flanking the front of the house turn a dark maroon.

And last, but certainly not least ...
Rosehill Cottage, ca 1950
 The epitome of what a cottage should be ...
complete with vine-covered walls, roses, and a white picket fence!
I'm sure the awnings are there to cut down on energy costs,
but I think if it were mine, I would have to remove them to
show off that pretty little bay window with the lamp in it.

Otherwise, it is perfect!
I hope you enjoyed my tour of some of the neighborhoods of Natchez.  I think I could go back a hundred times and still find new "pictures waiting to be taken."  In fact, I've already started a new list for next time!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Let Freedom Ring!

As we gather with our families and friends to celebrate our freedom this 4th of July weekend, let us remember with gratitude our servicemen and women who risk their lives every day to keep America out of harm's way so that we may continue to enjoy "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." May God protect them as they protect us, and bless them and their families for the daily sacrifices they make for us.

And let us also remember the courage, diligence, wisdom, and foresight of our founding fathers who, over two centuries ago, penned the Declaration of Independence.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness ..."

The significant aspect of the Declaration of Independence is that it changed the American “rebellion” against Great Britain into a “revolution.” From April 19, 1775 until July 2, 1776, the war was being fought so the colonists could regain their rights as Englishmen that had been taken away by the British from 1763-1775.

The "Founding Fathers"
On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved the resolution by Richard Henry Lee from Virginia that “these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved ....”

This was truly a revolutionary statement. John Adams felt that July 2 would be the day that would be “solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with shows, games, sports, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this Continent to the other ....”

July 4 is the day that was chosen as our “independence” day. That was the day that the Second Continental Congress approved but did not sign the document written by Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson
History has had a lot to do with the sanctity of July 4. It was on that day that the news of the Louisiana Purchase arrived in Washington, Henry David Thoreau arrived at Walden Pond, and President Abraham Lincoln learned of the Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. However, the one incredible event that happened to ordain July 4 as something significant were the deaths of both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, only hours apart from each other.