Day 6: Thursday AM, 10/9 – Antebellum Delights
Today is a traveling day, but we still have a full morning of exploring to do in Natchez. No trip to the Deep South would be complete without marveling at the beauty of the antebellum architecture of Natchez’s historic buildings.
After an early breakfast, we hiked it back into downtown and began our architectural quest. Most of the remaining historic buildings in Natchez date from around 1840, the year that a large portion of the city was destroyed due to fire. Ironically, twenty years later during the American Civil War, Natchez remained virtually unscathed.
The homes in the residential areas around downtown are beautiful and architecturally diverse.
An interesting tradition, or superstition, and now custom, evolved through the centuries when building homes. The superstition was started in our home state of South Carolina back in the late 1600’s or early 1700’s, and spread rapidly throughout the south. People then believed that when building a new dwelling, evil spirits would take up residence and “haunt” you and yours throughout your lifetime unless something was done to ward off these ghosts.
So, in order to ward off the “hauntings”, folks started to paint the ceilings of their porches and house interiors (ceilings only) a sky blue. The idea was that the spirits would be confused by the sky blue color, thinking they were still outside, and leave the home to “haunt” another. The dye used to paint back then was known as “haunt blue.” Through the centuries, the southern pronunciation of “haunt” became ” haint”, and this paint is still sold today as “haint blue.”
The custom of painting ceilings “haint” blue is alive and well in the south. No evil spirits in these homes!
The Blessing of the Motorbikes
We have one more building to visit before getting back on the road. People who visit Natchez come here for the beautiful religious art and architecture, as well as for spiritual purposes. There are numerous churches and synagogues in Natchez representing most all the major religions. Their buildings and interior decor are all magnificent, but now being a bit short on time, and being the first we came upon, we chose this Catholic cathedral.
St. Mary’s Cathedral
Outside the cathedral sat these motorbikes. Their riders were inside, and all had ridden to Natchez from Mexico. By virtue of riding right to the front entrance of St. Mary’s, we feel these motorbikes have been blessed. Their owners? Who knows.That’s Roo between the bikes snapping a photo.
The interior of St. Mary’s is jaw dropping gorgeous. Check out these few slides:
The stained glass is a true work of art.
Leaving St. Mary’s, it was time to walk back to the hotel, gear up, and bid adieu to Natchez. It was very hard to leave this city. It just had an energetic draw on us that cannot be explained. We wanted very much to stay, but the second half of our trip beckoned. There is so much to see here and in the surrounding environs. Firing up the ST, we nodded our helmets in farewell to Natchez, with the promise that we would be back. For the first time since leaving home, we pointed the big Honda east, and began our journey to a motorcycling mecca in Birmingham, Alabama.
Next Post: Two Up on The Trace: Shifting Gears on the Road to Barber