Melrose, one of the outstanding classic Greek Revival homes in Natchez, stands just more than a mile from the heart of the city on Melrose-Montebello Parkway.
Today it is the centerpiece of the Natchez National Historical Park, one of the newest national parks, established by Congress in 1988 and dedicated in 1990.
Beautiful Melrose stands in a spacious park-like setting, a fitting beginning for one of the nation’s newest national parks.
Guided tours of the Melrose house are conducted regularly throughout the day. Admission is charged to tour the house.
The grounds are open daily: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.Tours begin at the top of each hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
These tours begin at the top of the hour, from 10 a.m. (first tour) through 4 p.m. (the last) every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, when the park is closed.
The grounds are open, free of charge from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. For more information contact the Natchez National Historical Park, 601-446-5790, or 601-442-7047.
Melrose stands today virtually as it did more than 138 years ago when it was constructed from a design by builder Jacob Byers of Hagerstown, Md.
The house was built in 1842-1848 by Mary and John T. McMurran. John T. McMurran came to Natchez in 1824 or 1825 and soon became the law partner of John A Quitman, later governor of Mississippi, congressman and general.
Mary McMurran was the daughter of well-known Judge Edward Turner and Elizabeth Baker, his second wife.
The McMurrans sold Melrose in 1865 to Elizabeth Davis, wife of Natchez attorney and planter George Malin Davis and moved to nearby Woodland, home of Mrs. McMurran’s parents.
George Malin Davis, a graduate of Yale Law School, moved his family to Natchez from Pennsylvania. Davis practiced law in Natchez with Judge S.J. Boyd. In addition to Melrose, the Davis family owned other Natchez mansions, Cherokee, Concord and Choctaw.
Davis and his wife, Elizabeth Shunk of Louisiana, had two children, Julia and Frances. Julia married Dr. Stephen Kelly of New York.
Their son, George Malin Davis Kelly, inherited Melrose in 1883. He and his wife, Ethel Moore Kelly, moved from New York and into Melrose in 1910.
After Mrs. Kelly’s death in 1975, the property was purchased in 1976 by Mr. and Mrs. John S. Callon. The Callons retained the integrity of both the house and the grounds while continuing to perfect details of both to their original state.
The Grecian purity of the architectural setting contrasts sharply with the ornate Victorian and Empire furniture, bronze chandeliers, gold-framed mirrors and heavy draperies.
Melrose is most remarkable for the preservation and maintenance of the house, outbuildings and grounds.
Melrose’s details begin with Doric columns and delicate railings at the front entrance and continue inside with 36 solid cypress original doors, which, having been hand painted to look like white oak, are called “faux bois” or “false wood,” 10 Italian marble fireplaces, French zuber wallpaper made from original wood blocks carved in 1843 and rare French gilt mirrors.
Other outstanding furnishings in the house include Cornelius bronze and brass lighting fixtures and chandeliers from Philadelphia and rosewood furniture by Anthony G. Querville and Charles White.
At the rear of the house are the original dependencies which have formed a continuing working unit throughout the decades, including two storied kitchen and dairy buildings, latticed octagonal cistern houses, a smoke house, a privy, slave quarters, a barn and a carriage house.
In addition to Melrose, the Natchez National Historical Park also owns and operates the William Johnson House on State Street and plans to develop the Fort Rosalie site on the Mississippi River bluffs.