History resurrected in Gulfport

By Meggan Gray - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The old courthouse building on Courthouse Road in Gulfport is one of two historic properties making a comeback after Katrina.

"The significance is amazing for this property," explains city spokesperson Ryan LaFontaine. "It's where Jefferson Davis gave his final public speech, and everyone at city hall thought it was very important to rebuild it."

It was more than 120 years ago that Jeff Davis made his speech at the former courthouse, in what was then known as Mississippi City.

Katrina temporarily took away that piece of history, and the blueprints that went with it. But thanks to some old photographs, a replica of the courthouse has been resurrected.

LaFontaine says, "The most noticeable change is the fact that it used to face south, and now it faces Courthouse Road; it's just turned. But for the most part, the building is very similar to what was here before."

The same attention to detail was given to another historic property just down the road, Grass Lawn.

"About a half mile to the west, we go to the old home that was built here on the coast in 1836; that became a part of the Milner family home for so many years," explains Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel. "That was their residential palace that looked out over the Gulf. The city bought [Grass Lawn] back in the 70's and converted into a reception area for the general public."

Fortunately, the city had the original blueprints to the house, and crews have worked very hard to bring it back to its original splendor. Project managers expect to put the final touches on the home and hand it over to the city in the next six weeks.

Fontaine says both projects are a sure sign of progress.

"When you look at these buildings it's a reminder of our past, where we've been, what we've been through, and where we're going. We're coming back, rebuilding, not just Gulfport but all of South Mississippi."

Grass Lawn was a popular reception site for weddings and events in Gulfport, but city leaders say they don't know exactly how it's going to be used now.

The courthouse building will be finished by December 9th.

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