Historic homes help boost Biloxi tourism

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) - The Biloxi Main Street Association won statewide honors this week for its rehabilitation of the Bond-Grant house. That historic home on Howard Avenue houses the visitor's center for the City of Biloxi. Historic sites like the Bond-Grant home are important to the tourism industry.

"This is a wonderful old historical home in the City of Biloxi that Biloxi Main Street spent a couple years restoring and preserving.  And we're really proud of it," said Main Street Biloxi board member Laura Bolton.

The century old home sits in a prominent place right beneath the I-110.

A look at the "before" pictures and you can better appreciate the labor of love that was required to transform an aging house into a beautiful landmark.

Bolton says the rich architectural history of Biloxi has long been an attraction for visitors.

"Biloxi has a tremendous amount of history, and it's been here for many, many years. And we have some beautiful, beautiful old historical homes and historical sites for people to enjoy," she said.

One of those historic homes now houses an art gallery downtown. Gallery 782 is located right behind Mary Mahoney's restaurant.

Artist Jerry Mauldin says putting an art co-op gallery in this historic structure is a good fit.  Visitors interested in the arts are usually the same ones who appreciate architectural attractions.

"We think it's a really good venue here. We're excited about the gallery. We think it's going to go places. There's such a lot of history here, and we think it's just going to be a fantastic place to be," he said.

While Biloxi can certainly credit the casinos for luring visitors here, things like historic attractions give tourists other options when they visit.

Historic buildings are such a part of the fabric which truly defines Biloxi, especially in the downtown area where historic structures and noteworthy architecture abound.

"The old homes in the area and along the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast are fabulous. We lost a lot of them during Hurricane Katrina, but a lot of them were saved," said Bolton.

The restoration of the Bond-Grant house took nearly three years. Volunteers donated hundreds of hours of labor in repairing and painting the historic structure. Area businesses and organizations made donations of materials for the Main Street project.

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