Longwood was designed by Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan for Haller and Julia Nutt, Mississippi natives and members of Natchez's planter elite. Construction of the grand, octagonal edifice began in 1860 but was halted in 1861 by rising tensions over the Civil War. While the exterior of Sloan's Oriental Villa was largely complete, the home's interior was left unfinished except for the lowest level. The Nutt family lived in this finely furnished basement until the twentieth century. Colloquially known as "Nutt's Folly," the property was deeded to the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1970 by the McAdams Foundation and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971.