Interestingly, given our discussion about photographers on last week’s HABS post, this week’s subject, the Marschalk Printing Office in downtown Natchez, was photographed on different occasions by two different HABS photographers, the first our familiar friend James Butters, and the second, four years later, Lester Jones, who we’ve seen a couple of times on Natchez buildings before (Lawyer’s Row and Stanton Hall).
**muttering to myself* would’ve been nice if they had taken different angles at least, or maybe an interior or two**
The data sheet that James Butters filled out gives the reason he took the picture of this building, which had seen better days by the 1930s:
This old building housed the first printing shop in Mississippi. The first newspaper was edited here by Andrew Marschalk in 1801.
The data sheet also gives a construction date of 1798, which, if accurate, would put it in competition with Texada (c.1799), generally understood and cited in early newspapers as the first brick house in Natchez. I suspect this is not an accurate date given this other history of Andrew Marschalk where Marschalk himself says in a letter that he set up his first press in Vicksburg (or Walnut Hills as it was then called), and he did not set up shop in Natchez until July 1802. The MDAH Historic Resources Database is non-commital about the construction date. Even if built by 1805, it would have been an early substantial brick house and office.
The MDAH database also doesn’t mention when the building was demolished, but its lot is vacant on the 1958 Natchez Sanborn map, so sometime between 1940 and 1958. The lot is still vacant today.
As a side note, as I was putting together this post, I noticed that the Library of Congress has revamped its website and the HABS collection is SO MUCH MORE NAVIGABLE! Not only is there now a nice homepage for this huge, significant collection, complete with a brief essay about the history of the HABS/HAER program, but now, for what I think is the first time, you can easily browse by state without having to type “Mississippi” in the search bar. If you’ve ever had to search for Mississippi (the state), you know you usually end up having to wade through all sorts of junk returns having to do with Mississippi (the river) or even the common phrase “east of the Mississippi,” so this feature will be a special help for us. Check it out for yourself!
HABS Survey #: HABS MS-40