The National Park Service is turning 99 years old on August 25, 2015, and Natchez National Historical Park wants to give you a present – free admission! The usual house tour fee of $10 at the National Historic Landmark Melrose mansion will be waived for all visitors on August 25, and additional special tours will be given which focus on the decorative “stone” painting that has been newly recreated on all the stucco portions of the mansion’s exterior by Natchez master artisan Chris Landers.
Come to the park and see all the new things the park has to offer – Visitors to Melrose will be able to tour the newly replanted fruit orchard, see four of the original Dunleith carriages on display in the Melrose carriage house, explore slave cabin exhibits, and stroll beneath ancient live oak trees in the manicured parterre gardens. At the William Johnson House on State Street, home to a free man of color, visitors can learn about antebellum Natchez and hear excerpts from Johnson’s diary in the modern exhibits downstairs, then walk through his family’s furnished rooms upstairs. Self-guided tours of the Johnson House are always free of charge.
The National Park Service will turn 100 years old in 2016 – the same year that the City of Natchez will turn 300 – and in preparation for next year’s big centennial celebration, the National Park Service is inviting everyone to Find Your Park. There is a fun list of 99 ways to Find Your Park at http://findyourpark.com/nps99. At Natchez National Historical Park, you can walk through history in beautifully recreated house museums, pose for some very scenic pictures, reflect on our most difficult stories, and hug a tree while listening to a symphony of birds. You can also share your park experience with others by posting on social media with the hashtag #FindYourPark.
“We just celebrated the 299th birthday of Natchez at the beginning of August,” said Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Bond. “We look forward to celebrating the 99th birthday of the NPS on August 25th, and I hope everyone comes out to join our celebration. There is something here for everyone – come Find Your Park.”
On Aug. 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to create the National Park Service. Today, there are 408 national parks throughout the country and each one tells an important part of the American story. Some commemorate notable people and achievements, others conserve magnificent landscapes or incredible architecture, and all provide a place to have fun and learn. And, on August 25, all national parks will offer free entrance for everyone.
Natchez National Historical Park was established in 1988 to preserve and tell the story of all the people of Natchez. Last year, more than 215,000 park visitors enjoyed the park sites, added $12,000,000 to the local economy, and supported nearly 200 area jobs.
The mission of the National Park Service also extends beyond park boundaries. Community partnerships help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. To see what is happening at National Parks in Mississippi that include the Natchez Trace Parkway, Vicksburg National Military Park, and Gulf Islands National Seashore, go to www.nps.gov/MS.