Bluff City Undertaking Company: Robert D. Mackel and Sons Funeral Home

Corner Jefferson-MLK

One-story hipped-roof brick commercial building with brick cornice and altered facade. Mid-19th century. (Mary Warren Miller, 1979, Natchez-on-top-of-the-hill historic district National Register of Historic Places nomination form)

That is the extent of the “official” information about this building (featuring my favorite corner entrance, of course!).  It is situated on the corner of Jefferson Street and Dr M L King Street (formerly North Pine) near historic downtown Natchez.  It is located diagonally from the historic Triangle at Pine/St. Catherine Streets.  It does not appear in the MDAH historic resources inventory, although it is on the 1886 Sanborn map, and on the 1882 and 1897 maps with alterations, identified as a grocery store with ware house.

Corner Jefferson-MLK 3_

It is the current home of the Robert D. Mackel & Sons Funeral Home, which bears the signage “since 1898.”  Indeed, the Bluff City Undertaking Company at Pine & Jefferson, comprised of S. C. Caraway, Robert Mackel, Sr., and Robert Mackel, Jr. was established in 1898 (Natchez Democrat, Sept. 24, 1916, p. 9).   The company was relocated to the larger quarters that included office, morgue, chapel, and parlor from the earlier location at 118 S. Commerce Street.  Mackel completed a course at the Cincinnati College of Embalming in 1910.  Joseph Henry Clarke established the school in 1882 and it was renamed from Clarke College of Embalming in 1899.  It was renamed the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in 1966.  Bluff City Undertaking served the African American community in Natchez.

A timeline of businesses using this building or portions of it included:

  • Julius Roos “stand” was located there in 1899
  • 1902 Prosper DeMarco bought the store house
  • 1904 Anchor Supply Company appears in newspaper ads
  • 1905 P. DeMarco
  • 1906 Miss DeMarco advertises “desirable store building on corner of Pine & Jefferson for rent with or without ware rooms”
  • 1907 Bernstein’s Livery
  • 1910 Bernstein’s Livery relocates to Main Street
  • 1913 Whodine operates a grocery and supply store & Hutton’s Furniture is housed at the location
  • 1914 the lot is sold by Mary DeMarco at auction
  • 1916 Bluff City Undertaking relocates to this corner
  • 1917 Mrs. C. J. Parsons Grocery Store is advertised at the location
  • 1918 Bluff City Undertaking and Whodine

The number of warehouses and/or store fronts in the buildings on this corner could have allowed co-occupancy at the site at least a portion of time.

1897

According to the Natchez Trails marker, Mackel opened his first business at the corner of Jefferson and North Rankin, and “about 1911” relocated to the current location.  The name was changed to Robert D. Mackel and Sons in 1950.

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