Park grant funds consultant to help improve Natchez Pilgramage tours

NATCHEZ — A consultant will work with the owners of historic homes in Natchez to improve the local home tours.

The Natchez National Historical Park has used a $23,000 grant to hire Mary Ruffin Hanbury to work on how the home tours can be better conducted.

Park superintendent Kathleen Jenkins tells the Natchez Democrat Hanbury will meet people who are involved in the home tours and talk about what they think they need.

“She is going to be working this spring about identifying best practices, just to try to get our house tour experience ready for the 21st century market,” Jenkins said.

During Spring Pilgrimage, Hanbury will meet with those involved in the home tours and develop a questionnaire that will be available online for both the homeowners and the visiting public, Jenkins said.

Hanbury will write a final report that Jenkins said she hopes will be available by summer.

Jenkins said bringing in Hanbury is a “thank you” to those who started home tours because keeping the houses in shape for touring has helped preserve them.

She said it also recognizes that the times and the people touring the houses are different than they were 80 years ago.

“I have a tremendous respect for the ladies who began house tours here in Natchez — they were designing the airplane while they were flying it,” she said. “Times change, and this is an acknowledgment of that.”

Things to be considered include how new technologies can be incorporated, how exhibits can be more interactive and what activities can be worked into tours for children, Jenkins said.

Likewise, homeowners could consider telling multiple perspectives to the old Natchez stories.

“There was a vast array of different people living in Natchez, and they might have looked at the same events differently,” Jenkins said. “And they might have thought different things were significant.”

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