BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - After some tough years, Beauvoir appears to be turning the corner in terms of drawing more visitors to the historic last home of Jefferson Davis.
The museum reports seeing an increase in the number of visitors over the last year.
Dr. Tom Payne took over as executive director at Beauvoir in January of 2017. Traffic at the property was rather lean in the year before Payne arrived but since then, Payne said the numbers have trended in the right direction.
"We averaged about 40,000 to 45,000 people last year and we're probably seeing 50- to 55,000 now," said Payne.
Payne's first goal was to improve the appearance of the property. Guests are now polled and asked what they think of the overall condition of the home, the grounds and the presidential library. The approval number was of concern for a number of years, but in 2017, the approval rating jumped to 98%
"A lot of it had to do with the upkeep of the buildings and property and we've focused on that," said Payne.
A look at the license plates in the parking lot shows guests coming from Alabama to as far away as Washington State.
"We like Biloxi. We're from Mobile and it was a beautiful day," said visitor Stephanie Axtell. "We've always wanted to come so we came."
An aggressive marketing campaign, including the creation of a Facebook page, has also helped generate interest in the museum all over the world.
"We've switched our marketing techniques to farther out, including Europe," said Payne. "It seems that there's a greater interest by people in Europe who want to visit the south and understand southern heritage. There's probably more people in Europe interested in Beauvoir than there are in Biloxi."
Beauvoir has also put an emphasis on holding special events over the weekends.