401 Franklin Street
Natchez, the oldest continuous settlement on the Mississippi River, became the first capital of the Mississippi Territory in 1798. Upper Natchez, platted high along the bluffs of the Mississippi in 1790, became widely known for its exquisite mansions and, outside of New York, was once the home to the greatest number of millionaires in the United States. Today, Natchez boasts one of the largest collections of historic homes in the country and offers visitors a destination rich in history and southern hospitality.
The grand mansion you see today was originally constructed as a modest, one-and-a-half story, Greek Revival townhouse built for Samuel and Jane Newman around 1840. They purchased the property for $1,000. Samuel Newman was the grandson of Samuel Brooks, the first mayor of Natchez. Mr. Newman served as sheriff of Adams County before relocating to New Orleans in 1853. That same year, Newman sold his brick house to Matilda A. Metcalf. Metcalf owned the house until 1871 when she sold it to Jacob Ullman. In 1884, Jacob Ullman's heirs sold the property to Bettie Jacobs, and in 1900, Bettie Jacobs sold the property to the Natchez Elks Lodge for an undisclosed amount.
Not long after acquiring the property, the Natchez Lodge hired William Stientenroth to enlarge the building to the mansion you see today. During the 1902-1903 renovation, Stientenroth added a full second floor to the original half story. This explains why the windows differ on the second floor from those on the first. Since the 1902 renovation occurred during the Victorian Era, many architectural features were changed. Fireplace mantels and door moldings were "modernized" into the Victorian style and the front pediment and four massive columns added. The enlarged and remodeled building also featured a swimming pool at the rear where the courtyard exists today.
In 1981, an extensive renovation was under way at the Eola Hotel across the street. Poole Investments Ltd. purchased the building from the Elks to provide a place with larger suites for their V.I.P. guests. This renovation provided guest rooms that boasted period antique furnishings with exquisite draperies and wall treatments. Most of the antique furnishings were purchased from shops in the surrounding area. The garden courtyard and restaurant received several architectural awards. When the seven story Eola Hotel closed its doors in 2015, The Guest House operated under the name Eola Hotel until the two properties came under separate ownership.
During a storm in February 1998, 100+ mph winds came over the bluff and caused extensive damage to many structures in Natchez. Two of the large columns at the house collapsed leaving the portico in a precarious position. The strong winds severely damaged the slate roof and 48 of the 50 windows were shattered. The hotel closed seven months for renovation. Luckily, the antiques were strong and made it through the ordeal with only a few scratches.