Former Biloxi medical office receives national recognition

Published: Oct. 25, 2017 at 8:16 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 25, 2017 at 9:47 PM CDT
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Opened in 1966, the office was built by white-owned firm Collins & Collins. (Photo source: US...
Opened in 1966, the office was built by white-owned firm Collins & Collins. (Photo source: US Dept. of Interior)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The legacy of a Biloxi Civil Rights icon is officially becoming part of history.

The medical office of Dr. Gilbert R. Mason, Sr. has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Between 1959 and 1963, Mason led wade-ins on the Biloxi beachfront to protest segregation.

The second protest went on to be known as the "Bloody Wade-In" after assaults and gunfire erupted.

"Dr. Gilbert R. Mason Sr.'s Medical Office is the embodiment of a cultural asset that connects us to an exceptional American and a pivotal time in the history of our country," said the author of the nomination, Laura Ewen Blokker, an adjunct lecturer and assistant director, Master of Preservation Studies at the Tulane School of Architecture.

Located at 670 Division Street, the office sits in the center of a predominantly African American community. The 1966 opening was a historic moment for Mason, a graduate of Tennessee State University and Howard University Medical College.

"In fact, that Mason hired the "white architectural firm of Collins & Collins," which had only recently designed the U.S. Post Office on Main Street and had designed a number of other significant public buildings in Biloxi, "definitely made a statement as did the building he produced," wrote Blokker in the nomination form."

Mason was accepted to the Coast Counties Medical Association in 1968 and was also one of the first black appointed to a state board or commission since Reconstruction.

He died in 2006 at the age of 77.

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