Over the years I have traveled to many historic homes in the South. I love the architecture, the landscape and it’s at times it’s integral part of American history. Like many historic homes, it’s story and legacy showcases the good, the bad and the ugly side of American history.
The Beauvoir estate was the last home to of the former President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. Located in Biloxi, Mississippi, the estate and the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library sustained severe damage during Hurricane Katrina but has been renovated and reopened to the general public.
Beauvoir was a retirement home of sorts to the former Confederate President Jefferson Davis from 1876 to 1889 and where he spent his last years as he wrote his memoirs on what was once over 600 acres (now 52 acres) surrounded by cedars, oaks and magnolia trees as well the which faces the Gulf of Mexico.
Beauvoir, which means “beautiful to view” in french, was once by Sarah Dorsey, a family friend to Jefferson Davis who offered a cottage to Jefferson Davis so he could pen what became The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.
When I recently toured the property I can see how Beauvoir would be a calming and relaxing location to write. The house and plantation have been designated as a National Historic Landmark and has several points of interest including the Jefferson Davis Soldiers’ Home Cemetery, Hayes Pavilion, Varina’s Rose Garden and other reproductions like the Cistern which the original was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.The Cistern is a 500-gallon feature which collected rainwater from the roof as the only source of fresh water for the home.
The once Confederate state veterans home was restored to the 1800’s but many originals features still exists. From the floors to the six fireplaces which protected and reinforced the home throughout the 24 foot storm surge. Also, features like dentil molding appears along the doors/window and green storm shutters which protected the home from floating debris and protected the glass panes.
The Louisiana Raised Cottage took four years to build and was well-built for those days. Many of the historic collections were destroyed in 2005 but the home withstood a total of eighteen hurricanes since the mid 1800’s. The porch (my personal favorite), large windows and high ceilings promoted ventilation on those hot summer days.
I toured the home with a small group of visitors that day and enjoyed the brief history lesson given by our tour guide. If you visited a historic home be sure to ask questions, many of the architectural elements are used for the same purpose throughout the South.
Personally I enjoy the family history that the home showcased. Like many families today, you can spot the flaws in every household and appreciate the it’s story and legacy (bad or good) each home holds.
Once our tour was complete we were free to tour the property on our own. I visited the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Varina’s Rose Garden before the bad weather hit.
Both the historic home and the Presidential Library are well-maintained. Prices at $12.50 for an adult, you can easily spend an hour or two on the property before making your way home. The Civil War is oftentimes a sensitive subject for many people but it is apart of our history and its story should be told.
If you are visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast, you can find Beauvoir, The Home of Jefferson Davis just steps away from Biloxi Beach and near the casino area. A few miles away, you can pop into the Biloxi Visitor Center to learn more about the area and other Mississippi Gulf Coast attractions.