Longwood Mansion Museum
Let’s make the best of it, and enjoy what we can by residing here,
not dwelling on what is not to be.
I’m trying to get over my disappointment by appreciating new inventions,
and the redone gardens.
After traveling up a long road, we saw Longwood for the first time. WOW! Tom and I visited this one-of-a kind, octagonal, Moorish Revival mansion and found it’s exterior to be quite impressive ! It is the largest eight-sided house in America, built out of one million bricks that were made on site.
Five octagon-shaped floors are above ground, with the basement located just below the ground. The basement was set up with the furniture that the Nutts owned, as the only family to live here was the Nutt clan.
Balconies are located between the four verandas on the first two floors.
Pillars can be found on all the verandas surrounding the outside on several floors.
We toured the basement rooms and found them to be quite nice. In the same octagonal shape inside, all the rooms were finished with the furniture that the Nutts owned. It looked like the family had just gone out for a walk.
All the rooms needed for a family were complete: Bedrooms, Dining Room, School Room, Play Room, Billiard Room and Smoking Room. They were set up the way the family would have liked it. As they were the only ones who lived here, the 19th century furniture never left the family.
The other floors are unfinished to various degrees, but the blueprints on display for the first three floors show what was planned.
The basement was set up faithfully from the blueprint. The first floor has a center octagonal room called the Gallery, with the Dining Room, Family Room, Drawing Room and a Hall leading directly into it. The second circle of rooms would have had doorways leading into each other and the rooms off the Gallery. Each of the four long sides of this floor has a veranda.
As you step into the center Gallery room and look up, you can see through the octagonal open space all the way to the sixth floor attic where rotunda/cupola is located.
All the floors have central halls going around this space, with rooms off the hallways. Just the unfinished wooden skeleton holds it all together.
The second floor was where the Bedrooms were planned, along with Dressing Rooms. The third floor, fourth floor and fifth floors are a mystery, but the sixth floor was the attic, with stairs leading up to the Rotunda.
The rotunda/cupola had practical uses for the comfort of the family by providing mid-nineteenth century air conditioning and sunlight through the central space.
The shape of the cupola was designed to pull hot air upward toward the top of the cupola, creating an updraft drawing fresh, hopefully cooler air through the lower floors.
A system of mirrors inside the cupola was planned, in order to reflect sunlight down into many of the rooms.
The outside acreage is basically intact because the Nutt family held onto their property. Some gardens have been replanted. The old slave quarters and carriage building are in good shape. The Nutt family cemetery is also well-preserved.
In 1859, the city of Natchez was home to over half of America’s millionaires, more than any other city in America, meaning that there was plenty of money to spend.
Haller Nutt was a “supremely” wealthy owner of several plantations and stores as well. His total net worth was $3,000,000 in 1860.
His plantations sat on over 40,000 acres and were worked by eight hundred slaves. He was sitting high on the financial ladder, and he and his wife Julia wanted to showcase his good fortune in building a house worthy of their wealth, despite the prospect of war with the north.
Because he believed that war would never come to pass, or be only a short conflict at worst, he went ahead with their dream house. He hired the best architect, Samuel Sloan of Philadelphia, with instructions “to make it the biggest and most beautiful home you’ve ever designed.”
Sloan chose the Moorish Revival, an ornate and exotic architectural style, creating the largest mansion ever, built in the shape of an octagon which measured 30,000 sq. feet. It had six stories, thirty-two rooms, twenty-six fireplaces, twenty-four closets, thirteen stairways, one hundred fifteen doors, one hundred twenty-five windows, one hundred twenty columns, a Smoking Room, a Billiards Room, multiple nurseries, multiple banquet halls, a Sun Room, a Solarium, an Observatory, and many showy interiors using expensive materials.
Detached buildings were also required, so Sloan also designed a kitchen, a Carriage House and a three-story brick building to house thirty-two slaves. Later in the century, it was used for the servants’ quarters. The slaves worked as maids, nannies for the Nutt children and cooked for family meals.
Construction began in 1860, with Philadelphian contractors directing the work of both paid employees and slaves.
The impressive exterior was finished just before Mississippi joined the Confederacy. Work stopped suddenly as all the northern workers and the contractors fled home.
Nutt had his slaves complete the basement so the Nutt family could live there to ride out the Civil War. Out of the thirty-two planned rooms, only nine were completed.
As Nutt was a “Northern Sympathizer,” he and his wife nursed any Union wounded that came their way. He was also able to be awarded the necessary Federal papers to protect his properties.
While Longwood remained untouched, his other plantations, fields and stores were not so fortunate, as both Northern and Southern troops burned and plundered them. Nutt lost over a third of his assets, destroying much of his wealth.
He realized then that there would be no money to finish his dream home, and he sank into a depression that he couldn’t shake. His heart was truly broken.
Instead of inspiring envy from the townspeople, he was laughed at, as he had become the joke of everyone, three years into the Civil War. Longwood was nicknamed Nutt’s Folly.
His troubles increased when folks found out that he was a Union sympathizer to boot.
The Nutt family hunkered down in the basement, living on what they could grow on their Longwood land. Haller spent his time mostly walking around the gardens, trying not to think about his unfinished home.
In 1864, a year or so after he lost his wealth, Nutt died of pneumonia at the age of forty-eight in his Longwood basement. Some say that his broken heart caused the stress in his body that resulted in a lower ability to fight off disease. He was buried beside the graves of three of his children who died before him, in the Longwood Family Cemetery.
After the war, a lawsuit was filed against the government on behalf of the surviving Nutt family. They had the paperwork to prove that their properties were exempt from plundering. The court ruled in the family’s favor, awarding them $180,000 which helped immensely.
Julia Nutt lived in the mansion until she died in 1897, and she was buried in the family cemetery. The Nutt family lived and owned Longwood until 1968, when they decided to donate it to the Pilgrimage Garden Club, if they promised never to finish it, as a memorial to what the Yankees did to the South.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Profound disappointment and loss that breaks human hearts, can bring early deaths and tie these sufferers to this world when they become spirits.
Edgewood Plantation House, VA (Lizzie fell in love with her neighbor, who was killed during a Civil War battle. Her hopes and dreams of marriage to him were dashed, and she suffered from pain and depression. She stopped eating and eventually starved herself to death. Her spirit waits for him to return).
Whaley House, CA (The Whaley family had two daughters. One daughter married a good man, while the second daughter fell for a man who only married her to avoid legal trouble. After marrying her, he ran off with another woman, leaving her devastated, breaking her heart. She killed herself. Her spirit still grieves).
Saint Francis Inn, FL (A young soldier, son of the master, fell in love with a beautiful house slave. When his father caught them making love, he forbade this relationship. The young soldier made love with her one more time before killing himself. His spirit likes to flirt with living women employees and kisses sleeping brides as well as still making love with the spirit of the house slave).
Longwood Mansion, MS (Despite all his positive thoughts and actions, at some point Haller Nutt had the painful realization that his dream home would never be completed, which resulted in his suffering depression and unhappiness. While he died from pneumonia, it was this stressful loss of hope that lowered his ability to fight off disease. His spirit sticks around, hoping that someone may rebuild it).
A matriarch may decide to spend her afterlife in her house, especially if family members and children who died early are staying as well.
McRaven House, MS (Besides loving their forever home, the spirits of Mr. and Mrs. Murray also want to stay near the spirits of five of their children: two little sons, one grown son and daughters Ella and Annie).
Duff Green Mansion Bed and Breakfast, MS (The spirit of the matriarch, Mary, still enjoys her home while being near all three of her spirit children and tries to be a comfort to her tormented spectral husband, Duff).
Stranahan House Museum, FL (The spirit of kind Mrs. Stranahan has decided to stay in her forever home to take care of the spirits in her family who stay, and be a hostess to the docents and visitors who tour the home).
Longwood Mansion, MS (Julia Nutt made the best of it, while living in an unfinished mansion, by enjoying the rooms and blessings she had, such as her family and her many rose gardens. a Her spirit continues to stay in her forever home, still being the matriarch. She is willing to work with the living people around her).
Spirits of children who decide to stay in their favorite place, often enjoy themselves as they did when they were alive.
San Carlos Hotel, AZ (Two boy spirits who drowned in the basement well when their school once stood on this spot, have a blast teasing and playing practical jokes on the living as there is no one to stop them).
McRaven House, MS (The two preschool Murray boy spirits have fun playing with the toys left for them, trying to get living children on the tours to play with them, and touching and peeking at adults).
Bee Bennett Mansion, CA (The two young spirit boys, one from the Bee family and one from the Bennett family, are as hard to handle as they were while alive. Both love mischievous acts of fun!)
Longwood, MS (The three spirits of the Nutt children who died still have fun inside and outside).
Emotional energy from powerful to ordinary events can imprint itself and rerun the scenes from which it came.
Churchman’s Business School Building, PA (The residual energy of one very busy woman has been experienced).
Carnton Mansion, MS (The battle of Franklin replays itself on the grounds near this museum).
Longwood, MS (The scene that replays itself with regularity depicts the tender goodbye of a Union soldier).
The Spirit of Julia
The scent of roses surprises the living when her presence is near. She loved roses and wore perfume that had a rose scent.
Her unseen presence has been felt throughout the house museum on the first floor.
She has been seen walking up the central staircase going about her business.
She has also made personal appearances on the steps of the central staircase when she wants to make an effort to greet certain people.
Still in Charge
Julia keeps an eye on the docents, and the resident manager, and is probably the unseen hostess when people come for tours.
A new docent was leading his first tour group. In one room, he made a mistake with the story script, and the lights flickered which reminded him of what he forgot. In another room, the lights flickered again when he forgot part of his tour story, so he corrected himself again.
Still My Space
She finds quiet, gentle ways to share her feelings.
When the house museum first opened its doors to the public, the resident manager Louise Burns slept in the Nutts’ bed chamber. Uh Oh!
She was half asleep when she felt something gently lift her head off the pillow, and carefully move it from side to side.
Louise thought it was the spirit of Julia, just checking out who was sleeping in her bed.
The resident manager’s quarters was moved into its own space, out of Julia’s bedroom. Apparently, she is still using it.
The Spirit of Haller
He is still profoundly disappointed that his mansion’s interior will never be finished.
He paces around the unfinished floors above the basement, still fretting and upset.
His apparition has been seen looking out a window on the second floor.
He distracts himself by going outside where he can see the completed exterior of his mansion, can enjoy the gardens, and can walk the pathways of the grounds’ immense square footage.
What Is This?
Haller is drawn to new machinery.
In one incident, a groundskeeper was mowing the grass.
Being the first time that he had seen one, Haller was very curious about how the lawnmower worked.
He came out from the tree he was behind to get a better look at this marvelous new grass cutter.
The groundsman saw his see-through apparition, dressed in “old-timey” 19th century attire.
This revelation of Haller’s spirit inspired the groundskeeper’s hasty retreat off the property.
The three spirits of the Nutt children who died too soon still happily reside in their family home.
After the docents go home and the resident manager retires for the night, these spirit children have lots of fun playing with all the toys that are on display in their old playroom.
As they forget to put everything back and just leave the toys “as is,” the resident manager sees the results of their playtime when she reopens the house museum.
The sounds of children laughing and running around outside have been reported by visitors and staff.
The Grateful Spirit of Union Soldier
A poignant scene that is probably residual energy depicts the spirit of a Union soldier hugging Julia goodbye at the garden gate.
He was one of the success stories of the Nutt family’s mission to nurse wounded Union soldiers.
Paranormal activity has long been reported by staff and visitors, as the Nutt family continues to spend their afterlives here for the reasons listed above.
Paranormal researchers are not allowed to investigate because this may disturb the spectral residents who are well-known by the staff. No need to get hard proof and turn their museum into a place that attracts paranormal enthusiasts.
A Big Yes Indeed!
Melancholy Haller, who still finds interesting things, matriarch Julia, who claims her space but is nice about it, and three of their joyous little children still exhibit a variety of emotions and opinions as they enjoy their unfinished forever home.
140 Lower Woodville Rd
Natchez, MS 39120
Longwood is located southwest of Natchez on Lower Woodville Rd, where the historic country estates of the rich were built.
- The Lost Dreams & Ghosts of Longwood Plantation, July 15, 2014 by Susan https://betweennapsontheporch.net/tour-longwood-plantation-in-natchez-mississippi/
- The Haunting of Mississippi, by Barbara Silllery , pg 86-100, Pelican Publishing Co. 2011