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Taken from In Natchez Terms by Joan W. Gandy

Before "the war" (the Civil War, that is); used particularly to describe Natchez houses. No, all our houses are not antebellum.

The low, flat platform of land extending from the Mississippi River to the bottom of the bluff once was highly populated as part of Natchez Under-The-Hill but now is mostly claimed by the river.

A deep ravine usually thick with trees, undergrowth, vines and other foliage but not necessarily containing water, as opposed to the bayou in South Louisiana. In Natchez, the word is by-yo; in South Louisiana, by-you.

John Henry Belter of New York was a famous furniture maker whose work was highly sought by wealthy Southerners of the pre-Civil War period. One of the most outstanding collections of his work is at the house Rosalie, a rosewood parlor set consisting of 20 pieces.
"The bluff" is a term used to describe all the high land overlooking the Mississippi River in the Natchez area. The historic downtown area is bordered on the west by this bluff, where several blocks along Broadway include a public park with one of the best river views in town. The bluff was formed thousands of years ago of wind-blown soil called loess.

An ornament frequently seen on Natchez furniture or architectural components and often designed as an oval or oblong protrusion. Sometimes resembling an egg, the cartouche of oval design for many years was erroneously associated with a New Orleans furniture dealer named Prudence Mallard.

An early Philadelphia manufacturer of fine lighting fixtures, Cornelius and, later, Cornelius and Baker furnished many of the fine fixtures still seen in some of the most palatial Natchez houses, such as Stanton Hall.

Rising in many shapes atop Natchez houses and buildings, cupolas, pronounced "q’-po-las," were popular with 19th-century architects.

You’ll hear this term used to describe many of the smaller buildings constructed near the “big house” such as the kitchen, dairy, quarters for house slaves and other out-buildings.

Dogtrot house
Also called “two pens and a passage,” the dog trot house features rooms on each side of an opening passageway, which in early days might have been used as shelter for the family dog but also was a place where the family could have meals or sit during pleasant weather.

A semi-circular light place above a door, the fanlight reaches its most beautiful proportions at such early Natchez houses as Arlington (1819) and Hawthorne (1820’s). When the popular Greek Revival style took hold (1833-1870 in Natchez), the graceful fanlight was replaced with rectangular-shaped windows above and alongside doorways.

Many prominent Natchez houses have lovely 19th-century gazebos in their gardens. The small, partially open buildings sometimes conceal the tops of cisterns. Frequently the architecture of the gazebo reflects that of the house.

Jib windows
On one knows precisely the origin of the name, but jib windows, a Southern architectural feature, are small doors opening beneath tall windows to promote better ventilation.

Live oak
The live oak tree is one of Natchez’s most beautiful trees. Labeled “live” because it rarely loses all its leaves at one time, the tree does, in fact, shed and gain new leaves regularly.

You may pronounce it lures or low-ess. It’s the name of a peculiar soil found in the Natchez area along the Mississippi River and in very few other places in the world. It is a wind-blown soil, powdery and soluble in water but becoming compacted and hard in the absence of water.

What do girls and women wear to hide their legs in case their hoopskirts tilted to one side? Why, pantalettes, of course. These long loose-fitting pants usually were finished with rows of lace or other trim where the pantalettes showed beneath the hoopskirt.

Pier mirror
Although it is pronounced per mirror, the name of this particular mirror has nothing to do with how you look or “peer” into it. Rather, the name comes from its position between two windows where it was placed to reflect light. In this instance, the definition of pier is “the wall between two openings.”

For ages a word associated with religious sojourns, the Pilgrimage in Natchez is a special time when particular historic houses are open to “pilgrims” invited to visit the houses on a set schedule. The first Natchez Pilgrimage was in 1932 in the spring. The Spring Pilgrimage, held in March and early April, continues to be the biggest, but the three-week Fall Pilgrimage in October also is widely attended.

The pukah, coming to Natchez by way of the West Indies, is a large fan, often of wood, hanging over the dining room table for shooing away insects and for cooling purposes. One of the most elaborate punkahs in Natchez is at Melrose.

Raised basement
A popular architectural style in Natchez called for the first floor to be built in the style of a basement but above, not below ground. Such houses frequently will be referred to as “raised basement” style. Often the raised basement is stuccoed and scored (see definition) and the floors above are of wood.

Large stones along the Mississippi River banks aid in control of erosion. Those stones are known as riprap.

A prominent name in Natchez history, Rosalie was the name of the Duchess of Pontchartrain, wife of French minister, for whom Fort Rosalie was named. The house Rosalie built by Peter Little in about 1823 takes its name from the fort. And Rosalie was the name of the young girl, Rosalie Beekman, who was the only Civil War casualty in Natchez. Rosalie and her family were fleeing up Silver Street when the federal gunboat U.S.S. Essex shelled Natchez in 1862.

Spanish moss
An epiphytic plant (living on air and not a parasite), Spanish moss is particularly showy on Natchez live oak trees. The graceful grey moss is sensitive to air pollution and in modern times is not as prominent as it once was throughout the city.

Stuccoed and scored
The Greek Revival style called for an appearance of stone. With stone in short supply in places such as Natchez, the look of stone was accomplished by covering the surface of brick or wood with stucco and scoring evenly to give the look of large stone blocks.

In Natchez, most people pronounced this word “tees-ter,” but you will hear the word pronounced “tess-ter” in some other parts of the country. Testers are canopies which crown the lovely antique beds found in many Natchez houses.

Known for many generations as Natchez Under-the-Hill (as opposed to the main town on top of the hill), the settlement at the Mississippi River landing has undergone many changes in its history. Today it’s the stopping place for steamboats again, as overnight paddlewheelers Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen and American Queen dock at Natchez Under-the-Hill.
Natchez Trace Parkway
640 S Canal St Box C Natchez
1 Linden Place Natchez
1320 Quitman Pkwy Natchez
Natchez Cabin Rental
24 Round Hill Rd Natchez
Mammy’s Cupboard
555 Highway 61 South Natchez
Magnolia Cottage Bed and Breakfast
35 Homochitto Natchez
Lansdowne Plantation
17 Marshall Rd Natchez
100 Orleans St Natchez

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