Biloxi Lighthouse Headed For Major Makeover

"It's beautiful. I love lighthouses. And I made them bring me here today from Montgomery, Alabama," said Susan Grantham, as she snapped pictures of the Biloxi lighthouse.

She's typical of many tourists. The historic cast iron lighthouse commands attention.

"I had to come see this lighthouse again. Because it's been 20 years since I last saw it. And I wanted to make sure it was still standing after that storm," she said.

It's standing, but badly storm scarred. Broken lights, a makeshift door and a wrought iron fencing that's rusting, bent over in places and badly needing a paint job are all included on the "needs fixing" list.

So, why not a little cosmetic maintenance?

"That is a question," said Bill Raymond, the man in charge of the lighthouse, "But if I do any work and I do it incorrectly, I've just jeopardized my funding from FEMA. So, I have to be very careful about that."

Raymond is the city's historic administrator. Part of that job is maintaining the lighthouse.

He's doing his best to hold things together, including using plastic ties to keep the fence from falling. It's strictly temporary. But a permanent fix goes before City Council at its next meeting.

"It's going to be a complete restoration of the facility, replacement of all, repairs to the inside, repairs to the exterior, repainting the lighthouse, replacement of all the electrical system, including fixing the fence and everything on the outside," he explained.

Once repairs to the lighthouse itself are complete, the city's long range plans still call for developing a lighthouse park, with a visitor's center on the northside of Highway 90 and public access leading to the landmark.

"Plus, a beautiful green lawn that will connect back to the lighthouse. I think everybody is going to be very proud of it," said Raymond.

The firm the city hopes to hire has extensive experience in working to preserve lighthouses.