Mississippi mansion’s future uncertain as foreclosure auction looms

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The future of nationally significant antebellum mansion built in 1856 is slated to be auctioned on the steps of a Mississippi county courthouse Thursday after a bank foreclosed on the owner after he filed bankruptcy.

The future of mansion, dubbed “the most photographed house in the South,” is uncertain. Bidders may range from investors looking to improve the businesses operated there and potentially flip the house for a profit or even a wealthy individual who could buy the mansion and make it a private residence.

Dunleith Historic Inn became entangled in its owner’s personal bankruptcy approximately one year ago. A federal judge’s ruling in December cleared the way for a Natchez, Mississippi bank to foreclose.

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Businessman Michael Allen Worley filed a personal bankruptcy under Chapter 11 codes on Jan. 8, 2018, citing more than $107 million in liabilities, with just more than $80 million in assets.

Among Worley’s assets were three Natchez businesses and associated properties including: Dunleith Historic Inn and The Castle restaurant, Bowie’s Outfitters and Bowie’s Tavern.

Bowie’s Outfitters was sold in September to Roberts and Knost Investments, an LLC formed in August. The LLC shares a Baton Rouge address with the Excel Group, an industrial construction firm, owned by David Roberts.

Bankruptcy documents indicate Worley owed Roberts $352,729.31.

The bankruptcy trustee had been working to sell Dunleith and Bowie’s Tavern.

Bowie’s Tavern was posted as collateral against loans Worley took out at United Mississippi Bank.

In September the bank petitioned the court to remove the automatic stay. A stay immediately stops a creditor’s ability to pursue recouping the more than $7.3 million Worley owed the bank. Worley had refinanced several notes into a single large note at UMB on Aug. 31, 2017, just five months before he filed bankruptcy.

In December, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Douglas Dodd ruled in favor of UMB, clearing the way for the bank to foreclose on the property.

UMB began the foreclosure process immediately.

Dunleith was built in 1856 and has been operated as a commercial bed and breakfast facility since 1976. Dunleith currently has 22 luxury rooms available for overnight guests and has been the venue for many weddings and large parties throughout the years.

The mansion, located on Homochitto Street in Natchez, is among Natchez’s most recognized antebellum structures.

The property was still listed for sale Wednesday by a New Orleans real estate firm with a list price of $5.95 million. The listing suggests the house is “The most photographed house in the South.”

Web link to listing: