At six stories and 30,000 square feet, it is the largest octagonal house in the United States. Work began on the house in 1860, but in 1861, when word came that the Civil War had begun, workers stopped what they were doing and walked out, dropping their saws and hammers on the floor and leaving paint brushes in open cans. Only the exterior of the house had been completed. Thirty-two rooms were planned, but Dr. Nutt was only able to finish nine rooms on the first floor, apparently mostly with slave labor.
In 1862, Dr. Nutt and his wife, Julia moved into the finished first floor, along with their eight children. Dr. Nutt died before the war ended and Julia continued to live in the house until her death in 1897. Many of the family's furnishings remain there for tourists to see. I remember seeing the house as a child, during Natchez's Spring Pilgrimage. As we went up to the second floor we saw the workers' tools strewn about, clearly showing the passage of time. I wondered what it would be like to live on the first floor, with those eerie unfinished floors above, serving as reminders of what would never be.
There is a house in my city that is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Oh, it's a another grand house, and it was built to fulfill someone's dream, but while it was completed long ago, only the caretaker's apartment has ever been inhabited.