’Way back in 1839, when Henry Basil Shaw married Mary Elizabeth Lattimore, profound consideration was given to naming the homes and estates of Natchez. It is almost certain that the mistress of Melmont pondered long and consulted her family before deciding the name. She chose to use the three initials of Mary Elizabeth Lattimore to form the first part of the name, “Mel”, and added “mont” because the mansion stood mounted on a rolling acreage. Thus “Melmont” was coined.
Melmont is unlike other Natchez homes. The architecture is its own peculiar type. A sturdy, well-built house, it has for almost a century cared for Natchez’ foremost citizens and their illustrious guests. Claiborne, the historian, Judge Samuel Brooks, and other prominent men spent much time at Melmont.
The acreage around Melmont has been sold and modern homes have been built on the land. Melmont is now a palatial town house, no longer a country home.
Melmont was within the Federal lines during the War Between the States. When Natchez was shelled from the river in 1862 shells fell in the yard and gardens and destroyed giant oak trees and landscaping.
The interior decoration and furnishing are to a great extent from the original family although many handsome pieces have been added by subsequent owners. Mrs. John Ayres and her sister, Miss Corinne Henderson, have occupied this home for many years. Mrs. Ayers especially prizes a mahogany bureau which has chests on either side for storing wigs. ~ Project Gutenberg's Natchez, Symbol of the Old South, by Nola Nance Oliver