Clifton Heights Historic District
The Clifton Heights Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
Located six blocks north of Main Street, the Clifton Heights Historic District is located in the old suburban area of Natchez. The Clifton Heights Historic District is situated on an elevation more than 200 feet above the Mississippi River and is separated from the river by steep bluffs, the jagged edges of which form the district's western boundary, and by the low-lying lands beneath the bluffs which form the river bank. The Clifton Heights Historic District was developed on the grounds of, and derives its name from, Clifton, the early nineteenth-century suburban mansion that was destroyed in 1863 during the Union occupation of Natchez. Developed as one of the first corporate subdivisions of the city in the late nineteenth century, the Clifton Heights Historic District boundaries follow the 1888 subdivision plat with the exception that the district excludes the northern side of Maple Street (formerly Cemetery Road), which lies east of Ridge Alley and Postlethwaite Alley. This area was developed later than the adjacent streets to the west, and, when developed, did not maintain the character of the initial Clifton Heights development.
The Clifton Heights Historic District occupies an undulating terrain with selected areas of high elevation. The fine, loose loess soil of the district area has caused erosion problems so severe than portions of Clifton Avenue, which was originally the westernmost street of Clifton Heights, have collapsed. The jagged edges of the steep bluffs, the park-like grassy strips along the bluff edges, the gently rolling terrain, the large trees, and the spectacular view of the Mississippi River combine to create a district of great natural beauty.
All the streets in the Clifton Heights Historic District are features of the subdivision of the property except for the small portion of Maple Street (formerly Cemetery Road) at the northern extremity of the district. Linton Avenue is the only major thoroughfare within the Clifton Heights Historic District boundaries, since Clifton Avenue, which runs parallel to the west, is no longer a through street as a result of the sluffing of the bluff. No formal street planting of trees exists along Linton or Clifton Avenue, and the streets draw most of their abundant shade from the trees located in the yards of the houses.
The structural density characteristic of the Clifton Heights Historic District has remained unchanged since the creation of the neighborhood. The structural density would not be considered high, since the larger houses were constructed on more than one of the subdivided building lots, each one of which was allotted a fifty-foot frontage. The buildings are all residential except for one church building that has been converted to theater use (319 Linton Avenue) and a small frame residence at 220 Linton Avenue that was originally constructed for use as a doctor's office. The facade lines of the district are fairly uniform and vary from twenty to forty feet back from the street with the larger houses, especially those situated on higher elevations, being located the farthest from the street.
The open spaces within the Clifton Heights Historic District are limited to the grassy park-like strip of land that runs along the edge of the bluff and to the large expanses of lawn that surround some of the larger houses. Most of the houses have beautifully landscaped lawns but no formal gardens. Only one parking lot is located within the district boundaries, and it is a feature of the converted church at 319 Linton Avenue.
The primary building period of the Clifton Heights Historic District is from 1888-1910, and the majority of the buildings are either Queen Anne or Colonial Revival. 313 Clifton Avenue, 314 Linton Avenue, and 300 Linton Avenue are among the best examples of the Queen Anne style in Natchez. 219 Linton Avenue and 217 Linton Avenue are excellent examples of the Shingle style, and all three Natchez examples of this style are located in the Clifton Heights Historic District. 213 Linton Avenue, 208 Linton Avenue, and 207 Linton Avenue rank among the best examples of the Colonial Revival style in Natchez. The only Natchez example of Tudor style architecture is found in the Clifton Heights Historic District at 223 Linton Avenue. The Bungalows that are located on the eastern side of the 300th block of Linton Avenue are good representative examples of that style which was little employed in Natchez.
All of the contributing elements in the Clifton Heights Historic District are constructed of wood except for 317 Linton Avenue, which is brick. Most of the plainer cottages drive some ornamentation, as do the more lavish buildings, from the inclusion of a railed porch with turned balusters, brackets, spindle friezes, ornamental posts or columns, fish-scale shingles, or entrance doors with molded panels and/or transoms. Leaded and stained glass is also used abundantly within the district. The majority of the residences are painted white, but a couple are painted green, (219 Clifton Avenue and 217 Linton Avenue), two are peach colored (213 Clifton Avenue and 324 Linton Avenue), several are yellow (95 Park Avenue, 310 Linton Avenue, 219 Linton Avenue, and 206 Linton Avenue), and several are gray (99 Park Avenue, 223 Linton Avenue, and 214 Linton Avenue).
Alterations within the Clifton Heights Historic District have been minimal and appear to be limited primarily to loss of ornamental detail. Some porch railings are missing or have been replaced, one turret has been removed, and at least one porch (212 Linton Avenue) has been remodeled unsympathetically. Almost every one of the houses on Linton Avenue is in excellent condition, but the houses along Clifton Avenue, which is endangered due to erosion of the bluffs, are in poorer condition. However, rehabilitation efforts are now  underway on Clifton Avenue at 201, 205 and 211 Clifton Avenue. A small tenant house at 1 Mulberry Alley is the only deteriorated structure within the district.
The Clifton Heights Historic District represents the most architecturally and historically significant collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth century residences in Natchez. The architectural significance is based on the high degree of architectural finish exhibited by many of the residences, on their individual architectural integrity, and on the overall integrity of the neighborhood. Located within the Clifton Heights Historic District boundaries, are the only Natchez examples of the Shingle and Tudor styles as well as some of the town's most outstanding examples of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival architecture. Created in 1888 by the Clifton Heights Improvement Corporation, Clifton Heights was one of the first corporate subdivisions of Natchez. Partners Isaac Lowenburg and Henry Frank, prominent Natchez merchants, acquired the land from the Surget family, whose magnificent mansion Clifton was destroyed by the Union Army during the Civil War occupation of the city. The Clifton Heights Historic District derives its primary historical significance, however, from its association with the Jewish community of Natchez. A majority of the residences were constructed for prominent Natchez Jewish families, and the grandness of the residences testifies to the prosperity and prominence of the town's Jewish citizens in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Less affected economically by the Civil War than the Natchez planters, the Jewish citizens, who were primarily engaged in the mercantile business, prospered after the war to such an extent that they played leading roles in the cultural, social, economic, and political life of Natchez in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This thriving Jewish community, which has today dwindled to a small number of families unable to support the services of a rabbi, was responsible for the erection of most of the outstanding post-Civil War commercial and residential buildings of Natchez.
Adams County. Office of the Chancery Clerk. Deed Books 3C, 3U, 3V, 3X, 3Z, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E.
† Mary Warren Miller, consultant, Historic Natchez Foundation, Clifton Heights Historic District, Adams County, MS, nomination document, 1982, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.