Craftsman in Mississippi: Natchez Cemetery Shelter House

We’ve taken a break from the Craftsman series, but there are just too many nice Craftsman-style buildings in Mississippi to ignore, so here’s a new one on me, the Natchez City Cemetery Shelter House, which I “discovered” back in the spring when I took a long photography walk through the City Cemetery.

The City Cemetery and the Shelter House are included on the National Register as part of the Cemetery Bluff Historic District, and that nomination has this to say about it:

The Natchez City Cemetery occupies a tract of land consisting of approximately 80 acres, the first ten of which were acquired by the city in 1824. Plat 1 and the Old Catholic Cemetery comprise the original cemetery purchase. Of the 80 acres, 8 acres are located within the corporate limits of the city and the remaining 72 acres are located in Adams County outside the city limits. . . .

The paved avenue leading from Gate 3 is the original entrance drive to the cemetery as seen in the 1864 Map of the Defenses of Natchez (photo 1). The avenue of live oak trees terminates at the Shelter House, or office, for the cemetery. The Shelter House is a one-story, three-bay, hipped-roof, stuccoed building with wide, bracketed eaves and trellised entry porch. The building, which was constructed in 1914, was designed by Natchez native Sam Marx and reflects the Craftsman influence.

Unlike most people, Samuel Marx has his own wikipedia entry, which says:

Marx was born to a Jewish family in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1885. He graduated from MIT’s Department of Architecture in 1907, with his thesis Design for a Synagogue. He then went studying to Europe for eight months.

Before opening his own practice, he worked for Killham & Hopkins in Boston, and for Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge in Chicago. While he originally designed interior of hotels and department stores, Marx became a mostly residential architect, designing stripped-down buildings reminiscent of Mies van der Rohe‘s works, while he became respected for his aesthetic and functional integrated furniture and decorative elements.

Marx is also the subject of a lush book that I’ve recently acquired, Ultramodern: Samuel Marx, Architect, Designer, Art Collector:

Although Samuel Abraham Marx was born at the end of the 19th century, he had the eye of a modernist – as an architect, furniture designer, connoisseur and collector. His vision was neither ostentatious or grandiose, but subtle and quietly magnificent. Ultra-Modern, Samuel Marx, Architect, Furniture Designer, Connoisseur is the first monograph on this lesser-known but increasingly influential American designer.

So here in this little building we have a connection to not only the Arts and Crafts movement of the early twentieth century but also the modernist movement of the mid-twentieth century, high-style furniture, and a Mississippi native who made a big name for himself in the world of architecture and design.

Natchez City Cemetery

Natchez City Cemetery

Categories: Architectural Research, Natchez


6 replies

  1. Neat post! Sam Marx is buried not to far from his shelter.


  2. Is a shelter house a Mississippi thing? Or Southern? I had never heard of this until I came here, and I have run across the term several times in doing some local research.


  3. Just darling.


  4. Great example of the Craftsman style. I certainly hope it is preserved and maintained.


  5. Thoroughly enjoyed reading and seeing these great photos. So pretty!!!


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