I now consider it the true Crown Jewel of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. When looking for a place to stay, I whole-heartedly recommend The White House Hotel on Beach Boulevard in Biloxi.
I first discovered the historical hotel dating back to the 1890s more than a year ago not long after its rebirth.
It sat dormant much of my life, a dilapidated structure on prime real estate on Hwy. 90. I passed it hundreds of times curious why nothing had ever come of the place so wrought with potential and obviously filled with history. When MPA Executive Director Layne Bruce and I discovered it had finally reopened as a business trip to the Coast approached more than year ago, we booked a room and were not disappointed.
The White House was originally the home of Walter White, hence its name, who moved to the Gulf Coast in 1890 where he started a law career and was later appointed Circuit Judge. The property was previously the site of the successful Gorenflo Oyster Company. It was destroyed in an 1893 hurricane with only a three-rigged schooner left behind wrecked on the shoreline.
Family history says that White “salvaged thousands of discarded oyster shells to fill in the enormous lot’s swampy lowlands and he created a gently sloping knoll that would anchor his new Victorian residence on high ground while commanding a panoramic view of the Gulf.”
White also planted the seven live oak trees that today create a picturesque scene at night as they’re wrapped in white lights, and equally beautiful by day with large strands of Spanish Moss hanging from the giant, curly branches.
The White House Hotel was truly born from White’s wife Cora, who began accepting boarders into their home. As time went on, her side project became more and more popular to the point she and her husband acquired the home next door and ultimately expanded into a row of seven Victorian homes.
They joined two of the buildings creating a lobby, dining room and ballroom, all with balconies adorned with huge columns overlooking the scenic beach.
With the continued success of Cora’s efforts, she and her two sons, Walter and John, teamed with architect George B. Rogers, designer of the popular Bellingrath Garden’s house near Mobile, to build two additions that are now the center and east wings.
The inside of the hotel today features a very modern design, which fits my tastes, and is decorated with giant black and white pictures of early scenes from around the house and grounds.
The interior restaurant, Cora’s, provided a great meal on my first visit to the property. During a visit last week for a Mississippi Press Association Board of Directors meeting, my fellow journalists invoked tradition for our night out this trip choosing Mary Mahoney’s, which I can never argue with.
Sitting on a shaded bench beneath the live oaks, or kicked back on the rooftop lounge watching a beautiful sunset over the Gulf of Mexico is about as perfect a setting as you can find in Mississippi, or anywhere else for that matter.
I encourage you to find the opportunity to experience the same enjoyment at The White House Hotel.