Natchez • Nominated by the Historic Natchez Foundation
Built in 1855 as the residence of the Henry Shaw family, Melmont was designed by James McClure with characteristics of both the Greek Revival and Italianate styles of architecture. An attorney from Louisiana, Colonel Henry Basil Shaw built the house for his wife Mary Elizabeth Lattimore Shaw, and the house’s name derives from her initials M.E.L., and mont the French word for mountain, a nod to the house’s prominent location on top of a large hill. Descendants of the Shaw Family remained in the house into the early twentieth century, when it is likely the new owners undertook the remodel of the interior in the Colonial Revival style.
One of the many great suburban villas built during this period, Melmont is now surrounded by homes largely built in the early twentieth century, though it still maintains much of its original acreage and context. In addition to the main house, the original two-story frame slave quarters and kitchen still stands, one of only a handful of surviving examples in the region.
Years of neglect have taken their toll on Melmont. Modern modifications, including the use of Portland cement to repair the stucco, have caused additional damage. The load-bearing masonry walls are bowing near the base of the wall, and significant structural cracks run the entire height of the gable end walls. The lower windows are covered with plywood, while those on the second floor have been vandalized.