Beauvoir Could Help Spark Tourism Revival

BILOXI (WLOX) -- By rebuilding Beauvoir, the Sons of Confederate Veterans may have done more than just salvage a symbol of their past. They probably gave south Mississippi's tourism industry the shot in the arm it needed.

Bruce Schultz documented the occasion with his 19th century camera.  As he focused its lens on Beauvoir's rebirth, everything appeared upside down. But that was okay, because that's how images appeared in that sort of camera. The view gave Schultz a unique perspective of the Beauvoir celebration.

"I'm reminded immediately that you're peering through history," he said.

The old school photography technique was a lot like the Beauvoir property. In 2005, it was turned upside down by Katrina's ruthless punch. But out of the destructive winds and flood waters developed a picture of determination, and a spectacular monument to the past, and to the future.

"I think it just shows that when people are determined and persevere that things will endure," said Schultz.

Beauvoir's reopening brought hundreds of people back to the oak covered grounds along Highway 90 in Biloxi. The sight of so many visitors, from so many states, wearing so many different Civil War era costumes reminded new tourism director Richard Forester that better days were on the horizon.

"People want to know where we've been, where we've come from," explained Forester, "so yes, it means something."

Before muskets fired their first volley of post Katrina shots skyward, South Mississippi had basically counted on casinos to carry tourism through its hurricane mess. But when cannons echoed through Beauvoir's trees, a warning was sounded The last home of Jefferson Davis was back. And its members were more than ready to lead the tourism industry to victory.

Mayor A.J. Holloway called Beauvoir's rebirth "a great day. Big, big, huge step in our recovery."

Beauvoir's director told WLOX News that before Katrina, the Jefferson Davis home was averaging between 60,000-80,000 visitors a year. He also said that this October, the Fall Muster would return to Beauvoir's grounds. The previous two years, Katrina damage forced the Civil War re-enactment to relocate to the Harrison County Fairgrounds.