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Natchez

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Old Fort Rosalie Gift Shop, 500 South Canal Street, Natchez, Adams County, MS



Data Pages


Photo Caption Pages


Item Title


Location
500 South Canal Street, Natchez, MS

Find maps of Natchez, MS


Created/Published
Documentation compiled after 1933.

Notes
Survey number HABS MS-274
Unprocessed field note material exists for this structure (N1055).
Building/structure dates: 1940 initial construction
Significance: Although not initially envisioned as a restaurant, the plan for the building was always tied to the tourist trade. It served as the gift shop and visitors’ entrance for Jefferson Davis Dickson’s 1940-41 reconstruction of the eighteenth-century, French fort called Rosalie. The entry, paired as it was with a merchandising endeavor, necessarily pandered to the public. It was situated on Canal Street to accommodate the increased automobile traffic heading through town toward the newly constructed Natchez-Vidalia (Louisiana) Bridge. It also took the form of a log cabin, an architectural choice intended both to catch the attention of the passers-by and to be an authentic reproduction. Dickson’s replica of Fort Rosalie was located just as the original French fort was, on the bluff, behind what is now Canal Street, and high above the Mississippi River. The twentieth-century interpretation of the fort included features such as a stockade and double stockade, storehouse, chapel, barracks and officers quarters, Commander’s headquarters and bedroom, Council room, powder magazine, observation tower, blacksmith shop, guard house, kitchen and mess hall, and parade grounds, in addition to the entrance building at 500 South Canal Street. All of the buildings and rooms, moreover, were furnished. Of these, eight structures in addition to the entrance and gift shop building are marked on the Sanborn map that was updated beginning in the mid-1940s and finished in August of 1950. Dickson’s reconstruction of Fort Rosalie resembled other, larger-scale preservation and restoration efforts occurring elsewhere in the country, notably Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, John D. Rockefeller and W.A.R. Goodwin’s Colonial Williamsburg, Henry Francis DuPont’s Winterthur, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Flynt’s Historic Deerfield, and the Wells Historical Museum (Old Sturbridge Village). These men sought to preserve remnants of the past, specifically the colonial era, and, at times, chose to recreate that past or their vision of it. The places they shaped also were intended to present a history lesson, if only as a reminder of what was. Dickson capitalized on this trend toward preservation and history education, a movement that gained momentum in the National Park Service during the 1930s and guided work at privately-owned historic sites. Dickson’s version of the French fort was built in a manner identifiable with the pioneer, the frontier, and the conquering of the American west. It was an irresistible lure, for the showman with a fondness for his birthplace and for those tourists out to “see America first.”

Related Names
Dickson, Jefferson Davis
Decker, Fred L. Jr., Field Team
Steffes, Noah, Field Team


Collection
Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)

Contents
Photograph caption(s): 
View looking southwest
East elevation
Oblique view of east elevation, looking northwest
Detail of east (front) door, showing door handle and hinge
View looking northeast
View of west side, showing outdoor patio
North elevation
North elevation, with scale stick
Detail of log notching at northeast corner
Detail of log notching at northeast corner, with scale stick
Interior view of bar area, looking northeast
Interior view of bar area, looking southeast
South wall of bar area, showing fireplace and chimney


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