Biloxi lighthouse restoration well underway

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Take a good look at the Biloxi lighthouse. Beginning on Tuesday, the landmark will be covered with a tarp for the next six weeks.

Sounds of construction echo off the Biloxi lighthouse and safety scaffolding surrounds the 60 foot cast iron tower from top to bottom. The most photographed landmark on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is getting a much needed facelift to restore storm damage.

"The exterior will be completely stripped of all its paint down to bare metal, re-primed and re-painted. The interior brick will be replaced, the part that's missing and repoint the rest of it. All of the electrical is going to be brand new in the lighthouse when the restoration is finished also," said Bill Raymond, who oversees historic properties for the City of Biloxi.

"My name is Carla Beaugez and in just a moment we're going to take you on a very unique tour through a little town that we love," said the operator of the "Old Biloxi Tour Train".

For a group of Indiana visitors Monday morning, that tour involved a unique look at a famous lighthouse that's now a construction zone.

"I think it's absolutely gorgeous. The guys are doing a great job. It's going to be beautiful," said one of the visitors.

Special equipment has arrived to blast away the old layers of paint on the Biloxi lighthouse. That process will require a giant tarp to cover the tower.

The restoration of the landmark should be finished by the end of this year.

"This is the icon for Biloxi. When you think of Biloxi, you think of the Biloxi lighthouse. And it's just a real symbol for the whole gulf coast, not just Biloxi. So it's very important for this community," said Raymond.

Along with the restoration of the Biloxi lighthouse, plans are well underway for building the new Biloxi visitor's center across the street.

"Every tourist that comes to the coast I think will start right here with the lighthouse and the lighthouse visitors center across the street," said Raymond.

The Biloxi lighthouse is 161 years old.

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