Biloxi’s White House Hotel Reborn

In a story similar to that of the King Edward Hotel in Jackson, after almost thirty years of vacancy a Biloxi landmark will be restored.  On February 17 WLOX reported that according to its developers the White House Hotel is set to open mid-June, 2014.  A project sign was put up last week that give a completion date of “Summer 2014.” With a project this big it’s a good idea to have some contingency time.

Early panoramic post card view of the White House Hotel in Biloxi

c1930 panoramic post card view of the White House Hotel in Biloxi

The WLOX piece did state that some of the original flooring will be re-purposed, but identified that as preservation work rather than a more accurate description: recycling.  Some work that is actual preservation work is that the historic windows that were removed as part of the 2000 era work have been installed back to their original locations.  The interior work being done at this time looks to be limited to the installation of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The exterior will have an appearance similar to how the hotel looked in c.1950 after the second story balcony was removed from the original portion of the hotel. An addition that may appear to be in keeping with the building has been framed in at the end of the west wing to accommodate a staircase.  The interior will likely be modern due to the fact that what had not deteriorated over the thirty years of vacancy was removed in the last restoration attempt.

I have not heard any discussion of it but I hope that the pool will also be restored. Currently the changing rooms are demolished and the pool is filled in.

Most of the exterior stucco work has been started.  Since my posts from the past several weeks have been Plaster and Stucco related I thought it might be appropriate to talk about the stucco on this project.  It appears that the base used is Perma Base cement board -a product manufactured by National Gypsum.  This base is common for acrylic or synthetic systems that are an alternative to traditional lath, base, and stucco coats. Perma Base as a stucco backing has been developed as an alternative to the problem-plagued EIFS cladding systems.  The fact that the project is slated to be completed in June, is probably the main reason for the choice to use an acrylic stucco system.  This system is more akin to a heavy paint with aggregate applied in an attempt to simulate the appearance of stucco. This is the downside, the fact that the product doesn’t look like stucco but looks like what it is… synthetic stucco.  Since the 1920s-era additions have traditional stucco that is in good shape and are not being replaced it may create a jarring effect where you see the two different surface materials on the same building.  Hopefully when the synthetic stucco is painted the fact that the joints have a lesser drying rate for moisture will not be visible.

Overall I am excited about this project and cannot wait to see it when it is finished.

Whitehouse hotel Biloxi, Harrison County photos by author 2-23-2014 (3)



Categories: Biloxi, Demolition/Abandonment, Disasters, Historic Preservation, Hotels, Renovation Projects

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7 replies

  1. Me, too, as I have never seen it in the first place!

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    • You’ll have a whole laundry list of places to see. Speaking of laundries I’ll add two more places to see. There are two neat ones worth driving past on East Rail Road Street in Gulfport. One is the large industrial, late modern, VA laundry. The other (on the opposite end of the street) is a little laundromat with great steel windows.

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  2. What a grand old pile. I stayed there with my mom in 1950, again with friends in 1962 and yet again with my wife in the late 1970’s by which time it was getting a little tattered around the edges, but still easy to imagine how elegant it had once been. How sad it was in the years after it closed to see it sitting there abandoned. I thought sure the last chance for restoration died with Katrina. but fortunately not so. Can’t wait to stay there again! There is an excellent site about its history at http://www.whitehouseonthegulf.com

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    • It really did seem that the last chance for this building came down to the wire. Not that there was any development pressure, empty land is one thing the coast has plenty of. The William Carey Campus in Gulfport is one that demolition that comes to mind.

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  3. What a grand old place. Stayed there in the early ’90s. The tall doors and old faucets stood out in my memory as a welcome step back in time.

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