Published Jan/Feb 2007

These romantic Mississippi Inns will capture your heart as you laze on porch swings, admire antiques and walk in Gen. Grant’s Footsteps.
By Carolyn Thornton

pillow in the parlor of Dunn House Bed-and-Breakfast defines a Southerner as “a person born or living in the South; gracious, easy-going, slow-talking, friendly folk devoted to front porches, oak trees, cool breezes, magnolias, peaches and fried chicken.” Such definitions are true for a stay at one of Mississippi’s romantic inns.

Located in historic downtown Hattiesburg, Dunn House is one of the state’s newest inns. Owner David Broome purchased the 1890 Queen Anne shortly before Hurricane Katrina blasted through the state in August 2005. Despite the storm, he opened for business in December 2005.

The house is named for Capt. Michael Dunn who worked from his home office as pay master for J.J. Newman Lumber Company, an important business in Hattiesburg’s early history.

Guests from California to Maine enjoy lazing in the white wicker porch swing, reading an historic book from Broome’s collection, or dreaming of bygone nights while sleeping in one of the inn’s antique beds.

“I’ve collected antiques since I was 17,” Broome said. “Most of the furniture predates the home by 50 or 60 years.”
Magnolias and Spanish moss

Natchez evokes images of moss-draped live oaks, the hoot of a riverboat’s steam whistle and the sound of horses’ hooves and carriage wheels rolling over brick streets.

The largest collection of antebellum mansions can be found in this town situated on a high bluff above the Mississippi River. Dozens of historic homes double as inns, including The Briars Inn (1814-18) that served as the wedding site for Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Varina Howell in 1845. The Burn (1834) Historic Bed-and-Breakfast was named for a brook, or burn, that once flowed through the estate. Monmouth Plantation (1818) frequently hosts garden weddings.

Dunleith (1856), with its 26 colossal columns, is one of the most photographed homes in the country. Many of the 26 rooms and suites have modern amenities–like whirlpool tubs–blended with antique and period furnishings. The Castle Restaurant & Pub located on the grounds dates to the 1790s and caters to guests as well as brides. More than 40 weddings are held here per year.

A Southern breakfast buffet and a tour of Dunleith–a AAA four diamond inn–are included with an overnight stay. An historic nugget: During the Civil War, owner Alfred V. Davis, a notable horse breeder, hid his prize horses in the basement while entertaining unsuspecting Union officers in the dining room above.

For another romantic choice in Natchez, consider the AAA three diamond Linden bed-and-breakfast inn, located minutes from the city’s historic downtown at 1 Linden Place.

This antebellum home dates to 1800 and has a fine collection of Federal furniture. Antiques and canopied beds are in each of the seven bedrooms, as are televisions. Also, private baths, beautifully decorated galleries, a courtyard and garden are other amenities that are offered to guests.

It’s a getaway in the truest sense where you can enjoy a game of cards, read a favorite book or have dinner at one of the fine restaurants downtown. In the morning, savor a Southern breakfast in the 1829 formal dining room.

Here’s a bit of historic trivia: Linden’s front door was copied for Tara, Scarlet O’Hara’s plantation home, in “Gone With the Wind.” But then history plays a big part to a stay at Linden, which has been in the same family for six generations.

AAA members receive a discount at Linden. For information, call 1-800-254-6336 or click on the Web site www.lindenbandb.com.

A Civil War treasure

The crown jewel among bed-and-breakfasts in Vicksburg is Cedar Grove Mansion Inn & Restaurant. Cedar Grove’s luxurious appointments make it a favorite for wedding parties. Approximately 30 are held here each year.

This historic home that is popular with brides was built by John A. Klein for his betrothed. He spent several years building a 50-room mansion to present to his young bride, Elizabeth Bartley Day, on their wedding day in 1842. For their honeymoon, they took a long tour of Europe and purchased furnishings for their mansion.

Today, original furnishings mixed with period antiques recapture the opulence of that era at this AAA three diamond inn. Bohemian-made glass is above the doors. Heavy draperies pool at the floor. Tradition holds that each extra inch of fabric represented a $1 million stash.

The mansion is equally rich in history. During Vicksburg’s 47-day Civil War siege, two cannonballs crashed into the home. One cannonball is still lodged in the parlor’s wall. Used as a Union hospital, Cedar Grove was spared from destruction because Klein’s wife was a relative of Gen. William T. Sherman.

After Vicksburg’s surrender, legend has it Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant slept for three days in the bedroom off the main hallway. Guests today can book Grant’s Room.
Wedding capital

Hernando was the wedding capital of north Mississippi 50 years ago.

“Anyone who was tall enough to look over the (judge’s) desk could get married here,” said tourism director Kim Terrell.

Jerry Lee Lewis married his first wife there. Locals say Elvis or Priscilla Presley lost a wedding ring while honeymooning at nearby Horn Lake.

Such folklore makes good conversation for guests of Bonne Terre, which has its own wedding chapel.

This 120-acre oasis in Nesbit has 15 elegant guestrooms. The Bonne Terre Café overlooks a lake, and is popular with guests of the inn, as well as local patrons. Over the years, there have been about 30 wedding proposals in the restaurant and only one refusal.

With so many romantic inns, it’s hard to refuse a getaway to Mississippi with your special someone.

Carolyn Thornton is a contributor from Purvis, Miss.

Above: The 1890 Dunn House in downtown Hattiesburg, built in the Queen Anne style, is filled with antiques and has inviting wicker furniture on the porch. Carolyn Thornton photo

Below: With 26 colossal columns, Dunleith in Natchez is one of the most photographed houses in the country. Mississippi Tourism photo

Before You Go
For more information, contact:

• Dunn House, call (601) 582-5533 or 1-866-582-4343, 102 Short Bay St., or visit www.hattiesburgbedand

• Dunleith, (601) 446-8500 or 1-800-433-2445, 84 Homochitto St., or visit online at www.dunleith.com;

• Linden bed-and-breakfast inn, 1-800-254-6336, www.lindenbandb.com;

• Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1-800-99NATCHEZ (800-996-2824), www.natchez.ms.us;

• Cedar Grove Inn, 1-800-862-1300, 2200 Oak St., www.cedargroveinn.com;

• Bonne Terre, (662) 781-5100, 4715 Church Road West, www.bonneterre.com.

Stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks and TourBook guides. View a list of offices.

Order free information through the Reader Service Card online. Click on Reader Resources.

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