Biloxi Sees Tricentennial Park Master Plan

Every healthy like oak tree that you see on the property next to Tullis Manor will provide shade for Biloxi's Tricentennial Park and the new Ohr O'Keefe Museum of Art. And that's just what museum leaders wanted.

Museum director Marjorie Gowdy said, "I believe that anybody who was skeptical that we could save these trees will be so pleased at the effort that has been made."

Craig Webb brought a model of the new park to Biloxi. Webb is assisting world renowned architect Frank Gehry on the final museum designs. Webb said, "The great natural feature of the site are the live oak trees."

According to the three dimensional model Webb showed the Biloxi City Council, three of the five art galleries being built between Kuhn Street and Tullis will look through the majestic trees. The other two will have shoo-flys 75 feet in the air. According to Webb, "People will be able to go up to that level and see out over the top of the trees and get a view of the gulf. That's the idea of those parts."

The plan is to park cars on the north side of the property. That way, the new museum and park, Tullis Manor, the Boys and Girls Club and a new schooner pier across the street will form one large cultural campus. To create that cultural feeling, this chain link fence will come down. And the road into Tullis will become one of many walking paths around the eight acre complex. The paths will link the 145 year old house with what will be here in 2004.

"The big idea is to try and make a unified space," Webb said, "which combines all of the different buildings into a single park."

At the center of that park are the moss draped oak trees that a group of Biloxi residents fought so hard to save. Marjorie Gowdy said, "That just means so much to the museum that these trees will be here for centuries to come as will the museum."

One of the tricentennial park proposals is a beach restoration project. Architects would like to plant marsh grasses in the sand directly across from the Tullis area. In the master plan booklet presented to the city council, designers said the shoreline restoration would give the waterfront a 19th century look. Estuary experts from Mississippi State University are working with Ohr O'Keefe designers on the marshland concept.

Specific details about the museum galleries will be released July 12th. That just happens to be both George Ohr and museum supporter Jerry O'Keefe's birthday.

by Brad Kessie