Biloxi Mississippi Walking Tour
This walking tour is work in progress. More entries will be added soon.
Located on the Eastern tip of the Biloxi peninsula, the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum is housed in a Spanish influence structure built in 1934 as part of a U.S. Coast Guard station. The museum was established in 1986 to preserve and interpret the maritime history and heritage of biloxi and the Mississippi gulf coast. It accomplishes this mission through an array of exhibits containing historic photographs and objects. Visitors can experience the tremendous impact of hurricanes on biloxi through an exhibit and film on hurricane Camille, which devastated the Gulf Coast in 1969. the museum has brought biloxi’s maritime history to life by replicating two full-size Biloxi schooners, which sail the Gulf waters daily.
Designed by architect Frank O. Gehry and partnews, the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art is located on a four-acre campus in Biloxi, Mississippi. Set within a grove of ancient Live Oak trees, Gehry designed the Ohr-O’Keefe project as a series of six small pavilions woven among the trees and connected by an open brick plaza, creating an inviting and lively arts campus that maintains the existing park setting and encourages pedestrian circulation throughout the site. The entire project employs a micro-pile foundation system intended to minimize impact on the root systems of the Live Oak trees. The use of local materials, the use of references to the local vernacular, and the scale and placement of each of the pavilions on the site, represent sensitive responses to the conditions of the site and to the context of the surrounding area. The 25,000-square-foot Ohr-O’Keefe Museum campus provides facilities for art exhibition and education, and cultural and community events.
The original Pleasant Reed House was built in Biloxi, Mississippi, during the late 1800s. Pleasant Reed, a former slave, worked as a carpenter during the post Civil War economy. Thirty years after his family was freed from slavery, he began construction of their home in Biloxi. This historic landmark was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and later reconstructed and became a part of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art. Visitors can take a tour of the house and view original items used by the Reed family during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.
On August 17, 1969, the Mississippi Coast was devastated by Hurricane Camille. Winds exceeding 170 miles per hour destroyed buildings while 30-foot tidal waves ravaged the coast. This beautiful but somber memorial is located in front of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the church and damaged the memorial. Community and church members repaired the memorial and built a second where their church once stood. They also rebuilt the church at 1904 Popps Ferry Road. As a result, the two memorials serve as a reminder of the 172 dead or missing on the Mississippi Coast in Hurricane Camille as well as the estimated 1,833 who died in Hurricane Katrina.
Constructed in 1908 and originally operated as a federal building, City Hall is one of the more impressive landmarks in Biloxi. In terms of design, it is a monumental and excellent example of Neoclassical architecture. It features a striking facade of gray Italian marble, a loggia (a covered walkway) with arches that support a large portico with Corinthian and square columns, full-length windows on the second floor with pediments, circular windows with keystones, and palladian windows. The building became City Hall in 1960.
The Redding House is one of the most striking and historic homes not only in Biloxi but the Mississippi Gulf Coast as well. It is also the last remaining mansion in the downtown area. The house was built by wealthy businessman Charles Redding in 1908 and is a fine example of the Classical Revival style. Notable features of the 2.5-story house include wrap around porches with rounded-corner extensions, Corinthian columns, a single-story portico above the main entrance, and a pedimented dormer with a palladian window. The house is vacant as of early 2021.
The Magnolia Hotel, now home to the Mardi Gras Museum, is the oldest known hotel to exist on the Mississippi coast. It was built in 1847 by German immigrant John Hahn who owned coffeehouses in New Orleans. The museum features exhibits and memorabilia about past and present-day Mardi Gras celebrations. In this way, the museum changes its exhibits on a regular basis.
Built in 1929, Saenger Theatre is a historic entertainment venue in downtown Biloxi. It was erected by brothers Julian and Abraham Saenger, who were based in New Orleans and operated a large chain of theaters in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Panama and Cuba. In terms of architecture, the theater was designed in the Classical Revival style. The main facade of the building features four stone Ionic pilasters (columns) supporting a stone entablature, decorative brickwork, four stone urns, and the large theater sign. As of early 2021, the theater appears to be closed for renovation.
The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a historic Catholic church built in 1902. Often referred to as Nativity BVM, it is the parent church of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi. Designed by architect Theodore Brune, the cathedral is also a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture. It features a large bell and clock tower, Gothic arches, 61 stained glass windows, a large rose window, and buttresses. It is included in the Biloxi Multiple Resource Area, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
MGM Park is the home of the Biloxi Shuckers. Caillavet Park was the former name before the MGM Resorts International closed the deal for naming rights. MGM seats 6,076 fans. The park first opened on June 6, 2015.
The Biloxi Fire Museum is housed in a former fire station built in 1937. It is dedicated to preserving the history of fire fighting in Biloxi and honoring the men who have died in the line of duty. The museum features photographs and antique equipment on display, including old fire pumpers and fire trucks. It is operated by volunteers and can be visited on Saturday or by appointment.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Moran Art Studio that stood on top of an important historical site, which is now a memorial garden. Called the Moran Site after the studio, it is the second oldest known French Colonial cemetery in the country. The site dates back to the early 1720s. At that time, the Biloxi area was a staging ground from which Europeans (and African slaves) would be relocated inland in an effort to settle what was then part of the French Louisiana Colony. In total, around 32 individuals were discovered here. Most of them were male and all of them were probably from Europe. The site is next to the Biloxi Visitor Center and features interpretive panels, historical markers, and a statue depicting a weeping angel in the center. It appears that the individuals were reburied here in 2013.
The Biloxi Lighthouse was erected in 1848 and was one of the first cast-iron lighthouses in the South. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 as a prominent landmark and navigational aid. The tower was conveyed to the city in 1968 through the Historic Surplus Property program and operates as a private navigational aid. The lighthouse was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but was restored in 2010. Reaching a height of 64 feet, it is open for guided tours depending on the weather. The Biloxi Visitor Center is located across the street. In addition to serving as a starting point for visitors, the Center also includes several multi-media exhibits that explore the history of Biloxi and a theater that shows a short movie about the city. The Center itself opened in 2011.
This marker commemorates the actions of over one hundred civil rights protesters who were attacked by a white mob on April 24, 1960. The protesters were raising attention to the exclusion of African Americans from public beaches in the South and expected to be arrested. Instead, the all-white police force watched as a white mob attacked the protesters. It was not until a court victory eight years later that the city no longer barred African American citizens from using the beach.