William Johnson constructed a three-story brick structure on his mother-in-law’s State Street property after an 1840 tornado destroyed much of downtown Natchez. In March 1841, Johnson moved his family into their new home upstairs above the commercial space at street level. His family continued to live in the house long after his 1851 death.
The commercial district of antebellum Natchez bustled with activity. The sounds of carriages, villagers, steamboats and livestock created a constant clamor. Streets that were alternately muddy or dusty were lined with hotels, churches, shops, and houses. Among the buildings located on State Street was a two-family brick structure that contained both rented retail shop space and the home of the William Johnson family. Johnson rose from slavery to a position of middle-class prosperity during the heyday of the cotton kingdom economic boom. He hunted, gambled, bartered, picnicked with his family and recorded these events in an extensive journal. Although Johnson reaped the material benefits of his economic success, he still walked a fine line between the full rights of a white citizen and the bondage of slavery.
Located at 215 South Pearl St.
Open Daily: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Johnsons had a large household including William and his wife Ann, his mother-in-law Harriet Battles, ten growing children, and a handful of house slaves. Behind the home stood a two-story dependency which probably contained the family kitchen and dining rooms, as well as quarters for the servants. Also located on the lot were a chicken coop , pig pen and kitchen gardens.
Larger livestock including cows and horses were boarded across the street. The house was purchased from the Johnson family heirs by the Preservation Society of Ellicott Hill who performed initial preservation and
archeological study. The National Park Service acquired the Johnson property and the adjacent McCallum residence in 1990. The National Park Service did extensive historical research into the construction and original finishes as a guide to the restoration of the structure. Included in the restoration are many of the family’s original furnishings.
The William Johnson House is located in downtown Natchez, Mississippi at 210 State Street, one block east of South Canal Street.
The William Johnson House complex features a visitor center, public restrooms, bookstore located in the adjacent McCallum house, and a first floor
exhibit rooms with interactive programs and universally accessible displays. The second floor living quarters is restored and furnished with many
of the Johnson family’s original pieces. Special group and educational tours can be arranged by appointment.