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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Murder Trial of the Century

Perched on a gentle hill at Duncan Park is one of Natchez's architectural gems -- Auburn. The house was built in 1811 for a wealthy Natchezian, Lyman Harding, the first attorney general of Mississippi.

Auburn was the first home to be built in Natchez using an architectural design.  One of the home's most beautiful and unusual features is the lovely freestanding spiral staircase in the foyer.

But what makes this staircase even more interesting than its delicate, airy grace is the tale of Levi Weeks, the architect Lyman hired to design his beautiful home. The tale of Levi Weeks is mysterious and violent and fraught with drama and involved the most sensational murder trial of the 19th Century. 

Following a not-guilty verdict in the murder of his sweetheart, Elma Sands, Weeks left New York because of public sentiment against him.  He move to Deerfield, Massachussetts; then Cincinnati, Ohio; then to Lexington Kentucky.  The story followed him until he finally landed in Natchez, and became a successful architect.

The story has twists and turns that rival his beautiful staircase.  I could not tell it any better than it's told on the blog Murder by Gaslight.  Click on the link to read it.

staircase photos by Elodie Pritchartt © 2011

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