For $80,000 one of Mississippi’s architecturally significant buildings — all 12,000 square feet — could be yours. But there’s a catch.

Published 1:10 pm Monday, May 15, 2023

For $80,000, you could own one of Mississippi’s finest examples of the Second Renaissance Revival Style and one of the state’s most historically significant buildings.

That’s the list price the Historic Natchez Foundation has put on the The Prentiss Club building In Natchez.

Anyone who simply drives by and views its exterior may think that price makes it a steal. However, a peek at the inside may change your mind.

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While the Historic Natchez Foundation, which owns the building, has worked to restore its exterior and shore up the stability of the interior, not done much else has happened since it burned on Sept. 2, 2018.

And ownership of the Prentiss Club requires more than simply ponying up $80,000. That’s the minimum bid requirement. Historic Natchez Foundation will also need to know the proposed use of the property, timeline for completing the rehabilitation and the new owner’s financial ability to complete the rehabilitation.

Carter Burns, Historic Natchez Foundation executive director, estimates rehab of the building will require $800,000 to $1 million.

The Prentiss Club will require substantial investment and rehabilitation, according to a press release issued Thursday evening by HNF executive director Carter Burns.

In a press release issued by the Historic Natchez Foundation, Carter Burns, its executive

Built in 1905 in the Second Renaissance Revival Style, the Prentiss Club is one of the city’s most architecturally and historically significant buildings. It was built for the city’s most prestigious men’s club with its founding members being almost equally divided between Jewish and gentile, according to the press release.

The architect for the building was Francis J. MacDonnell of the New Orleans firm of Soule and MacDonnell.

“Throughout its life, the building has served a variety of uses.  Built as a private club, it has been a restaurant, nightclub, event venue, Masonic lodge, and a luxurious private residence when interior designer and antiques dealer Buzz Harper lived in the building and decorated it in his signature ornate style. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” Burns said in the press release.

Considered a total loss after a 2018 fire by its insurers, the owners donated the 12,000 square foot building to the Historic Natchez Foundation. The Foundation rebuilt the roof, restored the exterior, and cleaned out and stabilized the interior of the building.

“It stands ready to be repurposed and would be an excellent candidate for historic tax credits. Federal and state tax credits can recoup 45% of the project cost and the Historic Natchez Foundation will complete the tax credit applications for the new owner,” Burns said in the press release.

Potential purchasers can contact the Historic Natchez Foundation at 601-442-2500 and for more information and to schedule a tour. Real estate agents are welcome.

Proposals for rehabilitation should include: a bid amount not less than $80,000; a proposed use for the property; proposed timeline for completing the rehabilitation; and proof of financial ability to complete the rehabilitation.

The rehabilitation will be completed in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the transfer of title will include a rehabilitation agreement between the new owner and the Historic Natchez Foundation that includes benchmarks for construction, Burns said in the press release.