The White House Hotel: A short history

Published: Jul. 28, 2014 at 8:05 PM CDT
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The White House Hotel was named after long-time owner Walter A. White, a Mississippi lawyer who moved to the Gulf Coast in 1890 and would later be appointed as a Circuit Court judge.

White purchased the Hotel's main property, originally the site of the successful Gorenflo Oyster Company, in the aftermath of a disastrous 1893 hurricane, which destroyed the oyster packing plant. Salvaging thousands of discarded oyster shells to fill in the enormous lot's swampy lowlands, White created a gently sloping knoll that would anchor his new Victorian residence on high ground while commanding a panoramic view of the Gulf. He also planted the seven live oak trees that continue to shade the property today.

Under the supervision of prominent architect George B. Rogers, who also designed Alabama's famous Bellingrath Gardens house, two large Spanish Colonial annexes were built in 1927 and 1929. These additions, which featured a private tiled bath for every guest room, now form the Center and East Wings of today's structure.

The hotel was sold in 1940 to Mississippi businessman Jimmie Love, Jr. who already owned the Buena Vista Hotel, and would later launch Biloxi's first television station, WLOX-TV.

After failing health forced him to retire, Love sold the White House in 1971, and it passed through a rapid succession of financially-strapped owners. In March of 1988, her doors were nailed shut under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

In 1989, James S. Love, III would borrow $700,000 from the People's Bank to buy the deteriorating old hotel that his father, Jimmie Love, Jr., had sold almost 20 years earlier.

Learn more about the hotel's history: