Thursday, October 28, 2010

KT: Building or Structure Moved onto Site?

KT is for King's Tavern


I'm hearing and reading that a building could have been dismantled and erected on the site.  A couple of things I've read (nothing historical - just "talk") say the building was made from dismantled "sailing ships."  One source even described it as a British "pre-fabricated" building that was moved there.  Are any of ya'll hearing any of this kind of stuff?  Summer, you run across anything like that?  It'll be interesting to get Mimi Miller's take on it (Natchez Historical Society). 

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  2. I've spoken to Mimi Miller about this - she states that the stories of the building being hewn from sailing ships cannot be proven and, is in her estimation, just that - a story. The popular prose of the time tended to describe any curved beams located inside a building as coming from a sailing ship. She said it's doubtful that any ship remains were used in the construction of the Tavern. I'm content to say that we may never know for certain - we weren't there :)
    There are 2 separate schools of thought regarding the origins of the Tavern. Mrs. Miller is convinced that the tales of the building having been brought from elsewhere (namely Franklin Street, as the story goes) and rebuilt on the property are false. What both theories agree on is that the property was owned by Richard King - but accounts vary as to whether or not there was actually a building there before 1805.
    One account claims that Richard King took over the running of a Willey's Tavern, located on 609 Franklin Street, and subsequently moved the buildings to it's present site on Jefferson Street. This theory could be supported by the 1805 tax rolls, which do not mention Richard King as owning any property on Jefferson, but can also be contradicted by the very same tax rolls which show that Richard King did, in fact, own improved property above Fifth street (Union Street) adjacent to the road to Washington in the upper end of the city - a good description of the property owned by King, including the present King's Tavern property. These records also detail the proportions of the buildings - which are nearly identical to the dimensions of the original King's Tavern buildings.
    George Willey, who was year old when his family came to Natchez in 1788 and died in 1874, wrote in his memoirs that everything north of his father's house (located at what is now 609 Franklin Street) was in woods; an indication that the Tavern may not have existed at it's present site. However, he does not associate a date with the time period he speaks about so it is hard to base a conclusion upon this. Not to mention that his statement could also be assumed contradictory - by Willey's own words - when he also writes that "Probably the oldest house now existing in Natchez is the one occupied by Mrs. Postlethwaite, on Jefferson Street, between Union and Rankin. It was at one time kept as a tavern by a man named King..."
    What I do know, and what can be supported by factual, historical documentation, is that the property was purchased by the King's in 1794 and in 1799 Richard King applied for and received a license to operate a public house. Whether or not the Tavern was standing in 1799 or not until 1805, I can't say as of yet.

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