A Brief Introduction
Natchez is one of the earliest European settlements in the lower Mississippi River Valley. The origins of the city date back to 1716 when French settlers established Fort Rosalie atop the bluffs of the river. In 1789, the Spanish governor Manual de Gayoso ordered the survey and creation of the street grid and the city was born. Today, Natchez is well-known for its unique collection of historic architecture, reflecting three centuries of its history. Two historic sites, Melrose and the William Johnson House, are part of the Natchez National Historical Park.
Melrose is a mid-19th century suburban estate, containing a Greek revival-style mansion and accompanying outbuildings. Completed in 1848, the main house is often referred to as one of the great houses of the American South. Melrose provides a glimpse into the lifestyle of the pre-Civil War southern cotton planter and the enslaved people who worked on the estate.
William Johnson, a free man of color, constructed his handsome townhouse using bricks from nearby buildings that had been destroyed in the devastating tornado of 1840. A prosperous barber, Johnson kept a meticulous diary for 16 years, chronicling his life as a free man of color in a slave society. Johnson and his family lived in the upper floors of the house while he rented the first floor to various merchants and businesses. Today, visitors to the William Johnson House explore the world of free African Americans in the antebellum South.
In 2014, CyArk and Trimble partnered to digitally preserve Melrose and the William Johnson House as a pilot project for the Atlantic Slave Trade theme. This project aims to curate and share an immersive, interactive experience that will complement the continued study, research, and conversation of slavery in the Atlantic world.
Interview: History of Natchez, with Kathleen Jenkins, Superintendent of Natchez National Historical Park, and Darrell White, Director of Cultural Heritage Tourism for Visit Natchez.
Interview: Forks of the Road, with Ser Boxley, Coordinator of the Forks of the Road Society Inc., and Kathleen Jenkins, Superintendent of Natchez National Historical Park.
Interview: Johnson House, with Jeff Mansell of the National Park Service.
Interview: Melrose, with Kathleen Jenkins, Superintendent of Natchez National Historical Park, and Jeff Mansell of the National Park Service.
Annimation: Johnson House, point cloud animation.
Click here to read more about this project