Join Us in Natchez, Mississippi, September 30 - October 3, 2020

sesah logo 2020


October 1-3, 2020

Natchez Grand Hotel and the Natchez Convention Center

Annual Conference Chair: Carter Burns, Historic Natchez Foundation

SESAH’s 38th annual conference will be held in Natchez, Mississippi. It will include two days of paper sessions and a Saturday study tour.

As the oldest permanent European settlement on the Mississippi River, founded in 1716, Natchez and its dramatic setting high atop a bluff have attracted travelers for three centuries. The city was among the richest per capita as the capital of the Deep South’s antebellum Cotton Kingdom, and scores of extravagant suburban villas still ringing the city testify to the wealth of cotton planters in the Old Southwest.

Conference attendees can stay at the conference hotel, the Natchez Grand Hotel, located downtown and right across the street from the Natchez Convention Center, where paper sessions will be held. Numerous bed and breakfast establishments can also be found both downtown and at a few of the suburban estates. Major airports nearby include Baton Rouge, LA (85 miles), Jackson, MS (125 miles), Alexandria, LA (80 miles) and New Orleans, LA (165 miles).

Early arrivers on Wednesday, September 30, can familiarize themselves with downtown on a free, self-guided walking tour that includes sites such as the William Johnson House, a Natchez National Historical Park site built in 1841 for a free African American barber whose published diary chronicles his extraordinary rise from bondage to freedom and to a position as a respected businessman. Participants can also tour historic downtown churches and a synagogue: Trinity Episcopal Church (1822), First Presbyterian Church (1828), St. Mary Basilica (begun 1842), and the Temple B’nai Israel (1904).

Thursday’s paper session day will conclude with barbeque and cocktails at Bonture, an 1851 Greek Revival side-hall townhouse built for free African Americans Ann and Robert Smith. Bontura’s setting provides a magnificent view of the sunset over the Mississippi River. The house features a double-tiered cast-iron gallery, rear carriage house, and a two-story brick privy.

Friday’s awards luncheon will be held at Stanton Hall, an 1857 National Historic Landmark and the most palatial of the city’s mansions. An evening reception will close out the paper sessions at Elms Court, one of the finest suburban villas in Natchez, built in 1837 and featuring a fabulous 1850s ironwork gallery.

The optional Saturday study tour will focus on the suburban villas of Natchez, built by wealthy planters as semi-rural retreats for their families. The tour will not only showcase the evolution of antebellum architecture from the earliest house in the state with classical orders (Auburn, 1812) to the onion-domed Longwood (1861, architect Samuel Sloan), but will also highlight the outbuildings for the enslaved people who operated these estates, including a number of two-story brick quarters with kitchens, dairies, and privies that form rear courtyards behind the big houses.


The Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians is now accepting paper abstracts for the 2020 Annual Conference, to be held in Natchez, Mississippi, September 30 to October 3, 2020, and co-hosted by Historic Natchez Foundation, Natchez National Historical Park, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Please submit abstracts to by May 18, 2020.

Conference Venue:

The conference will be held at the Natchez Convention Center and the conference hotel will be the Natchez Grand Hotel. More details to follow regarding hotel registration.

Paper and Session Proposal Submissions:

We encourage submissions from architectural, landscape, preservation, and urban historians; independent scholars; architects; architectural theorists; museum curators; and other scholars in related fields. Submissions from graduate students in these fields are also welcome.

Participants need not work in, reside in, or focus their research within the Southeast or the twelve-state SESAH region. However, all accepted presenters and session chairs must join SESAH and register for the conference by the early registration deadline. Accepted presenters must also submit the complete text of their papers to their session chair by September 1, 2020. SESAH reserves the right to drop presenters who do not fulfill submission requirements. Paper presentations are 20 minutes maximum (approximately 2,300 to 2,500 words).

Papers on any architectural history topic and session theme are welcome. In addition, we invite submissions addressing the following themes:

    • Native American Landscapes of the South
    • African American Landscapes of the South
    • Women Designers of the South
    • Historic Preservation as Economic Development
    • Heritage Tourism and the Modern South
    • Rural Landscapes in the South

Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts (in MS Word format) of no more than 300 words must include the applicant’s name, professional affiliation, contact information, title of the proposed paper, and 5 keywords; a CV must be attached or included (in Word or PDF format). Proposals for sessions must include the title of the session; names, affiliations, contact information, and CVs for participants; and abstracts (as Word docs) of each paper. Please email documents to by May 18, 2020.

Travel Grants:

SESAH offers up to three travel grants for graduate students and one travel grant for an emerging professional. Applications are due with the abstract. Please see for applications, under the “Award Opportunities” tab.

Important Dates:

Paper and Session abstracts/proposals deadline: May 18, 2020
Travel Grant application deadline: May 1, 2020
Notification of acceptance: June 8, 2020
Registration opens: July 1, 2020
Completed papers from travel grant applicants: July 15, 2020
Notification of Travel Grants: August 1, 2020
Submission of full papers to session chairs: September 1, 2020
Early Conference Registration deadline: September 1, 2020
Conference paper sessions: October 1-2, 2020
Local Tours: October 3, 2020

Call for Papers:

Below is a PDF of the call…