GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - An eye sore in downtown Gulfport has become a sight for sore eyes. After sitting for years in a dilapidated state, the former Markham Hotel no longer looks its age.
“Probably 90 percent of the exterior has been completed and secured,” said Tessy Lambert, Lodging & Leisure Investments PR director. “We’ve gotten the windows all squared away. There’s a few spots that still need to be finished. But, for the most part, it’s done.”
But, it still may be a while before the old gem opens back up in whatever form the owners have planned. They are keeping the concept secret for now.
Lodging & Leisure Investments bought the hotel in 2017, and officials had hoped to open in the middle of 2020. But the company had to put the interior work on hold while working on its other properties damaged by Hurricane Zeta.
Lambert said she is as frustrated as anyone that progress is not faster.
“It’s very frustrating to not be able to bring something to fruition when you expect to,” said Lambert. “But, you just have to keep chipping away.”
And the commitment to return the hotel to its former glory hasn’t wavered.
“I think that is a dream that a lot of our community here - not only in Gulfport, but Biloxi, Ocean Springs, all the way to Bay St. Louis,” Lambert added. “Everybody wants to see this. A lot of people have wonderful memories here, and I think we all want to see the gilded opulence and the stately glamour of this building restored.”
Count long-time Gulfport resident Robert Locke among those with precious memories of high school dances and swimming lessons at the hotel pool.
“Every time I go by it, I talk about it.” said Locke.
And the dilapidated state of the building wasn’t just a nuisance.
“You just hated to see that building go like that. You hated to see the memories go like that,” Locke said. “The idea, though, of it coming back it’s a mainstay. It has been a mainstay in the City of Gulfport. And I believe it’s going to be maybe another mainstay. I hope so.”