Monmouth, built in 1818 by Natchez Postmaster John Hankinson, is an imposing structure set on a high hill.
The house, about one mile from downtown Natchez, is a two-story common-bond brick residence consisting of a main house with rear wings and dependencies. It sits in the middle of 26 acres.
Monmouth features a giant portico accented by four massive columns spanning the three central bays of the five-bay north facade.
The first-and second-floor entrances are designed with three-paneled, double-leaf doors of hand-carved pilasters. Two tall inside chimneys, stuccoed with flaring caps, project above the side elevations.
Located at 36 Melrose Avenue at John A. Quitman Parkway
Open daily: 9:30 to 11:45 a.m. 2 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Tours every 45 minutes
The interior consists of four rooms downstairs and four rooms upstairs with a central hall. Facing the main wing across the rear yard is a detached common-bond brick service building with three chimneys. This structure has been converted into an inn with four rooms, an office and a gift shop.
Monmouth was built while Natchez was emerging from the depression brought on by the War of 1812. When it was built, yellow fever broke out in Natchez Under-the-Hill; Mr. and Mrs. Hankinson nursed a man in the throes of the fever. They caught the illness from him, and within a week both were dead.
In January 1825, Monmouth was sold at public auction to Calvin Smith for $11,000. On March 11, 1826, Smith and his wife Priscilla conveyed the property to John Anthony Quitman, a man who later claimed state and national fame.
When Quitman arrived in Natchez in 1820, he was nearly penniless, but he possessed an almost irresistible personality. Armed with a law degree, Quitman joined a Natchez firm and soon became successful.
He bought Monmouth for his bride, Eliza Turner, a first cousin of his partner’s wife. When the Mexican-American War broke out, Quitman went as a major general and led his troops on a charge through the Belan Gate and Mexico City and then on an assault on Chapultepec Castle.
On Quitman’s return from the Southwest, the whole country went wild with excitement. He was soon made chancellor of Mississippi, then congressman and then governor. He was later honored by the U.S. Congress for his brave actions in the Mexican War and President James Polk presented him with a gold sword, which today is on display at Monmouth.
Gen. Quitman, poisoned at a banquet given in Washington, D.C., for President James Buchanan, died in Natchez at the height of this fame. His funeral was one of the most spectacular ever in Mississippi.
Church bells tolled, and soldiers marched with mourning bands on their sleeves. At the grave, men who had fought with Quitman in Mexico sounded taps and fired the last salute.
Furnishings of Quitman’s mansion are in keeping with the 1840s. In the general’s study is his desk, at which he worked during his political career. Also on display is the original Quitman family Bible, returned to Monmouth in October 1982 by Geraldine Shaw of Lookout Mountain, Tenn., a great-great-great-granddaughter of John and Eliza Quitman.
Nearby, the bedroom in this wing is the master bedroom, furnished with a king-sized custom-made bed, designed for Gen. and Mrs. Quitman.
Monmouth, purchased in February 1978 by Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Riches of Los Angeles, was in very bad repair and required extensive restoration. By October 1980 the renovation of the house was completed, though the owners continually add appropriate antique furnishings.
Now an antebellum inn taking overnight guests, Monmouth, with 31 rooms and suites, has expanded accommodations to include cottage suites and a meeting center.