Beauvoir's Restoration To Be Unveiled On Tuesday

BILOXI (WLOX) -- The last home of Jefferson Davis is one of the first historic landmarks in Biloxi to rise from Katrina's ashes. On Tuesday, the Sons of Confederate Veterans will unlock their front gate, and invite people back to Beauvoir.

The restoration of the Beauvoir mansion is considered a significant milestone for Mississippi historians, and for south Mississippi's tourism industry.

When you open Jefferson Davis' front door, you see the intricate detail that's going into the artwork on interior walls. Philip Ward has the daunting task of retracing the designs in the historic home's foyer.

"We're following in the footsteps of the original craftsmen," said Ward.

Ward and Linda Croxson have been hired to stand on scaffolding, and carefully bring the 19th century art to life. Through research uncovered after Hurricane Katrina's devastation, the duo has found a way recapture the robust, original colors of Beauvoir.

"A great deal of work was done before we came. We're just the icing on the cake," said Ward.

Outside the mansion, Richard Forte and Angie Corum found themselves singing, "Happy days are here again."

As they walked around the grounds, they couldn't hide their smiles.

"It's just going to be great," Corum said.

Corum was a Beauvoir tour guide before Katrina. So even though she lives in Texas now, she drove back to Biloxi to lead Tuesday's first guests through the reincarnation of this home.

"I wouldn't miss it for anything," she boasted.

Neither would Forte, the acting director of Beauvoir.

"I tell everybody that now I have a PhD in restoration," he joked, while standing on the balcony, overlooking the Mississippi Sound, a body of water that brought so much pain to his organization.

From the Wednesday after Katrina blasted through Beauvoir, Forte has been on the grounds. Despite numerous construction delays, Forte maintained his belief that the Confederate president's last home would once again be a monument to Davis' memory, and a tribute to the Confederate soldier.

"But really after I looked at it for a few minutes, I said we can put a new porch on it, you know, and I went around to the rest of the house and structurally it was fine," he remembered.

Thirty three months, and $4 million later, Beauvoir's makeover has salvaged a piece of south Mississippi history, and reinvigorated the area's tourism industry.

"It's just beautiful. You've got to come see it," bragged Corum.

A formal reopening ceremony will be held Tuesday morning at 10 o'clock. And about a thousand people are expected to attend. If you're going, remember, Highway 90 is under construction. So you need to leave early. Curators say off site parking will be available at the old Broadwater golf course. And buses will take you down to Beauvoir, and the rebuilt home of Jefferson Davis.