Institute Hall, Memorial Hall, and now, United States Courthouse

The former Institute Hall in Natchez is called a “rare example of 19th century Greek Revival auditorium” by the General Services Adminstration, who had a hand in the restoration of this building for use as a US Courthouse.  The brick and stucco structure originally opened in 1853, a design of architect Thomas Lewinski, for use by the Natchez Institute School.  By the 1890s, it was known as Opera Hall due to the many entertainment events held in the hall.  In 1901, the classrooms that had been in the basement were relocated and a new concert hall was opened, so the building sat largely empty.  In 1921, the building was repurposed as a monument to World War I veterans and a proscenium stage, patriotic decor, and bronze plaques naming the veterans were all added.  The building was renamed Memorial Hall.  It was used for a variety of purposes, including the first of pilgrimage pageants and a museum.  It sat vacant and deteriorating until 1987 when it was purchased by the Natchez Historic Foundation.  Archtitects Waggonner & Ball oversaw the restoration/renovation to its current use as a US Courthouse.

You can enjoy a brief video of the early beginnings of Natchez, and Institute Hall, and see the development of the US Courthouse project as it moves from a decaying building to a beautiful and functional place maintaining historic integrity.  The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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