Beauvoir welcomes back special piece of history

Beauvoir welcomes back special piece of history

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - "Sometimes we call it the death wagon," said Beauvoir executive director Greg Stewart.

The wagon is actually called a catafalque, and it carried Jefferson Davis' body through New Orleans during his funeral in 1889. The carriage will soon be back on display at the museum in Beauvoir for the first time since before Hurricane Katrina.

"We're real excited to have it. It's been the culmination of two and a half years of effort," said Stewart.

After spending a couple years at a museum in Baton Rouge, a team of professional restorers brought the carriage to the Coast to be reassembled.

"After Katrina, the remains of it were pulled out of the mud. The good people of Louisiana actually owned the thing, and they fixed it up and it looks like it did before Katrina," said Stewart. "It is jaw-dropping when you see it."

The carriage itself is only made of 25 percent original parts. The rest had to be constructed. That's where Wade Mattie and his restoration team come in.

"We had to resort back to the only thing we could find, which was the drawings and photos that they had here or in textbooks," said Mattie.

The catafalque will be part of a display of Jefferson's death, including a copy of the original death mask they made of his face minutes after he died.

"A lot of the old Coast folks that remember Beauvoir before Katrina will be glad to see this one back," said Stewart.

Stewart says the carriage will be completed and ready to view by Saturday.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.