Beauvoir Tourists Coming Back, But In Smaller Numbers

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's been more than three months since Beauvoir re-opened its grounds to tourists. Extensive damage from Hurricane Katrina kept the last home of Jefferson Davis closed for several years. But after all that time, are visitors are finding their way back to Beauvoir?

The Hendrix family came from Louisiana to tour the last home of Jefferson Davis.

"It's great. It's a beautiful house. It's in great condition. So we really enjoyed it," Billy Hendrix said.

According to Beauvoir officials, on average, they see about 100 visitors at the museum each day. Although that's nowhere near the 75,000 people that came through the year before Katrina, officials say they're pleased, especially considering the weak national economy.

"I was here on the 4th of July and we had over 200 in for the Fourth of July," said Richard Forte, Beauvoir's acting director. "But compared to the days of growing up on the coast and visiting down here, there's still not a lot of people here."

One way Beauvoir is working to draw more tourists is by giving visitors more to see. Construction is underway on replicas of both the Library and Hayes cottages.

"We've gotten word from the Mississippi Tourism Commission several times in the past for being the most visited historic house in Mississippi, and I certainly believe we will return to that status," Forte said.

Beauvoir officials said they are still in recovery mode. But as that winds down, they expect more people to visit, and tourists agree.

Mike Dollfus is a Hattiesburg native that has lived Greenville, South Carolina for several decades.

"You take for granted the things that are available to you when you live here. But when you move away and come back, you realize how precious they are. So I wanted to come down here and see it," he said.

Beauvoir is featured in the August issue of Southern Living Magazine, and Forte said the Wall Street Journal is scheduled to tour the grounds next week.

"That's publicity you can not buy, especially from well known national magazines and media. I mean, you can't purchase that," said Forte.

Beauvoir is open every day from 9am until 5pm.