Melrose was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
Melrose (1 Melrose-Montebello Parkway), though not innovative, is a highly successful attempt at perfecting the Natchez plantation mansion created at Auburn and Arlington 25 or 30 years before. The dimensions are somewhat larger and the construction more solid. The Doric tetrastyle portico is modified by the broad spacing of the center columns; the iron railings are notable for their delicacy. The rear gallery is incorporated in the design and the hip roof is crowned with a balustrade.
Fluted Ionic columns frame the broad interior openings which have carved sunbursts in the transom space. Wood mouldings, despite their large scale and simple profiles, do not appear ponderous. Plaster cornices are of Spartan simplicity and the dark marble mantels are simply carved. The Grecian purity of the architectural setting contrasts sharply with the ornate Victorian furniture, bronze chandeliers, gold-framed mirrors and heavy draperies. A carved mahogany punkah is prominent in the dining room.
Melrose is most remarkable for the quality of the preservation and maintenance of the house, outbuildings and grounds. To the rear of the house is a symmetrical service yard; a two-story kitchen, latticed octagonal cistern house and square brick privy on the left are balanced by a two-story dairy and identical cistern house and privy on the right. Slave cabins, a barn, carriage house, and poultry house are more distant. The approach drive skirts the great, shaded lawns at the front.
Built in 1845 for attorney John T. McMurren, Melrose was his until 1865 when it was sold, with most of its furnishings, to George Malin Davis. Vacant through a quarter-century, the house in 1901 became the home of Davis' grandson, George M. D. Kelly, and his bride, a spirited lady who has lived there for 73 years.
In a community of magnificent mansions, Melrose is remarkable for the perfection of its design and the integrity of its maintenance and surroundings. Its detached kitchen is still used, having never been replaced by alterations or additions to the main house. Built in 1845, its ownership has been in only two families; its furnishings have never been dispersed. The lawns and outbuildings complete a complex designed and executed as a whole and never compromised by unsympathetic accretions or encroachments.
[Melrose is now designated as Natchez National Historical Park.]
‡ Paul Goeldner, National Park Service Division of Historic and Architectural Surveys, Melrose, Adams County, Mississippi, nomination document, 1974, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.