Location Information
(for the King's Tavern)
Name:King's Tavern
Address:611 Jefferson Street
City/County:Natchez, Adams County
Architectural Information
Construction Date:c.1795-1800
No. of Stories:2.5
Registration Information
NR Listing Date:06 May 1971
NR District Name:Natchez-On-Top-of-the-Hill
NR Status:Contributing
Element No.:222
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Local Designation Information
Local District Name:Natchez Historic District
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Context/Comments
The following was compiled by Mimi Miller, Historic Natchez Foundation, c.1986:

King's Tavern has long been regarded as the oldest building in the town of Natchez, and documentary evidence indicates that the building was standing at least as early as 1805 (Natchez 1805 tax rolls, bound photostated copy, Armstrong Library, Natchez, MS). The building was built in either the late Spanish or early territorial period.

Mr. George Willey, who was a year old when his family came to Natchez in 1788, mentioned King's Tavern in his reminiscences before his death in 1874: "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, and was the stopping place of western men on their return from New Orleans, after selling out their flatboats of produce (J.F.H. Claiborne, MISSISSIPPI AS A PROVINCE, TERRITORY, AND STATE, p. 529).

Another reference to the house being the oldest in Natchez is found in an obituary of a Bledsoe family member that was published in THE DAILY DEMOCRAT on August 27, 1904. The Bledsoe family acquired the property in 1861 (Deed Book NN: 231).

The earliest reference to the King's Tavern property is found in the Spanish Records in 1794, when Prosper King (brother of Richard King) petitioned the Spanish governor for permission to erect a house on lot 3 of squre 33, which is the site of the present King's Tavern (Spanish Record Book D:354). Whether or not Prosper King built a house after obtaining the land in 1794 is not known. However, Prosper King sold the property to his brother Richard for fifty dollars in 1798 (Spanish Record Book D:354), and the low purchase price indicates that the lot may not have been improved.

The earliest association of a King with a tavern is found on August 5, 1799 in the Minutes of the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Adams County Courthouse, Adams County, MS, p. 78) where Richard King was licensed to operate a public house. The probate records of Richard King indicate that the King's Tavern on Jefferson Street was operated as a tavern by King before his death in 1815. An 1817 map of the division of King's estate depicts two buildings on lot 3, square 33, the larger of which is located on the present site of King's Tavern (Division of Real Estate Record Book 1:4). That one of the two buildings was operated as a public house is supported by Richard King's inventory which lists four waiters and one set of dining tables (Probate Box 22) and the subsequent purchase of the property by Charles Green, who was also a tavern-keeper (1807 city taver license, Mayor's Court Minute Book 1805-1808, Natchez City Records, Miss. Dept. of Archives and history).

King's Tavern was built as a one-and-a-half-story frame residence that may or may not have originally rested upon a raised brick basement. Several houses in town were jacked up after they were built for the later construction of brick first stories (NATCHEZ DAILY COURIER, March 7, 1856). The building has several characteristics typical of Spanish and early territorial period architecture, such as beaded siding, chamfered gallery posts, board-and-batten doors, an exterior gable-end chimney, an attached rather than undercut gallery, and flushboard interior walls. The house was later enlarged by a side addition.

King's Tavern was restored by the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1974 and has been adapted for commercial use as a restaurant.

[HABS: MS-37 (1934)]