BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For 30 years, a ghost of one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast's grand hotels sat on Highway 90 in Biloxi. Visitors would wonder if it was a casualty of Hurricane Katrina. Some locals hoped a developer would bring back the historic structure to its former glory, while others called for the eyesore to be torn down.
Both sides can now claim victory. After a massive renovation, the White House Hotel is back, and it's about as far from an eyesore as you can get.
Thursday night, the front lawn of the new hotel was full of singing voices, horns, and drums. VIP guests got a chance to be the first to see inside the newly renovated, historic hotel.
Cono Caranna is the General Manager of the hotel. He admits the space was an eyesore for the area after Hurricane Katrina gutted the old hotel. But he said starting from scratch allowed him and his partners to bring something new and beautiful to Biloxi.
"It's nothing like what it used to be on the inside because nothing that was here, was here when we took over the building. Everything else has touches of the old and a lot of touches of the new," Caranna said.
Bettie Fore is the great grand-daughter of Cora White, the namesake of the White House hotel. She says she had to hold back tears being at the grand opening event, because it was everything she expected and more.
"I am so delighted. It used to just break my heart to pass here and just see it in shambles. But I am absolutely delighted; I think it is beautiful. The outside looks exactly like I always remembered it," Fore said.
From having the newest technology, to the modern decor, visitors were blown away and happy to once again have this piece of history back in Biloxi.
"I always prayed and hoped this day would come. I could have never voted to tear it down," Lucy Denton, a Biloxi resident said.
The refurbished hotel features 76 rooms, a restaurant and areas for weddings.
One of the first events to be hosted at the White House Hotel will be Biloxi's Preservation Awards on August 7th.