Beauvoir House Rises From Destruction

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Hundreds of people went to celebrate the reopening of Beauvoir on Tuesday. The public is once again able to walk through the home that is so much a part of confederate history and South Mississippi tourism.

Almost three years after Hurricane Katrina devastated Beauvoir, Confederate President Jefferson Davis' house has been restored and reopened. The party included music, cake and two 21 gun salutes.

Hundreds honored the life of Jefferson Davis, a man who historians say was a United States congressman, senator, and co-founder of the Smithsonian Institute, just to name a few of his accomplishments.

Kelly Burrow of the National Sons of Confederate Veterans said, "Today we are here to honor a man who is more than the president of the Confederate States of America. As you've heard today, he was a West Point graduate, he was an officer and a general in the United States Army."

Those who had a hand in restoring Beauvoir said they worked to have people see the house as it would have looked through Davis' eyes.

"There are differences with the mansion today than before Katrina," said architect Larry Albert. "Those differences are that we tried to put it back exactly like it was in 1889 when Davis left for New Orleans and never came back."

Davis' descendants sang happy birthday to their ancestor and thanked the people who helped bring his last home back to its glory.

Bert Hayes-Davis is the great-great grandson of Jefferson Davis.

"We saw the worst. But from the worst, we've got the best," said Hayes-Davis. "We have recreated today a house that will live for hundreds of years before us, representing two things. The national historic monument that it is and the last home to my great-great-grandfather Jefferson Davis. What a birthday present."

Some visitors to the newly opened Beauvoir also expressed awe at Davis' legacy.

"It's his birthday," said James Harris of Magnolia. "I've always respected the man. I love his writings. I think he was a really fantastic man, intellectually and as a statesman."

Merle Hammack worked as tour guide at Beauvoir before Katrina.

"It was a dream come true. We've waited and prayed for it to be open and it is just beautiful. We've had such a wonderful day and a wonderful turnout. I just people will come and enjoy the adventure that's Beauvoir."