Mississippi Architect, Feb 1964: Gulf Towers, Biloxi

Gulf Towers, a high-rise apartment building in Biloxi, was the featured Mississippi building in the February 1964 issue of Mississippi Architect. It might be hard to remember now, but back in 1964, before Camille and of course before Katrina, the Gulf Coast boasted long stretches of historic and architecturally significant houses on large beachfront estates. By the 1960s, numerous large hotels, motels, and more residential clustered motor courts interspersed the older estates. Gulf Towers then was a trend-setter, opening the way for more such high-rise developments and the transition of Biloxi, for good or for ill, to a modern beach strip built around the automobile.

The building survived Katrina, with the bottom floor lost to the surge, but it sat vacant for several years until being repaired. I believe it is now a Sheraton Hotel.


Charles W . Crisler Jr., Pres.

Architect & Engineer Jackson

General Contractor Jackson


Gulf Towers is situated on a 1.35 acre site overlooking West Beach Boulevard (U. S. Highway 90) and the Gulf Coast beach. The site has native magnolia, oak and pecan trees lending natural beauty to the development. Sloping from rear to front and elevated above the highway, the site was developed with an elevated recreational area and first floor enabling tenants and guests to look “out to sea” over the highway.

In setting the building back from the street, a parking area for guests was developed in front, with retaining walls. The setback and elevated site act as a buffer to highway noise, which is somewhat abated by large trees and planted areas developed in conjunction with the guest parking. Tenant parking is in the rear of the building accessible from the side street, Hopkins Boulevard. Native trees were preserved within the tenant parking area and planted areas were developed to provide a garden-like atmosphere.

Preliminary market analysis revealed that this building should incorporate a wide variety of apartment types to accommodate the various tenant needs. This is an unusual market area due to the high influx of seasonal vacationers and the military personnel in the area. Financed under the F.H.A. 207 program, the budget was closely regarded during design development to arrive at an efficient building providing a sound owner’s investment. Flat plate concrete floor slabs, concrete shear walls and columns were selected to minimize building volume, thus resulting in a more economical structure. The application of floor finishes and ceiling finishes to the upper and under surfaces of these flat slabs resulted in structural integrity and enabled a high degree of flexibility in the design.

A lounge, druggette, beauty shop and laundry were designed on the first floor convenient for tenants and guests’ use. Garbage is centrally collected through a chute located on each floor and picked up from the garbage room at the rear of the building. Two high-speed elevators are centrally located and a stair is located at each end of the building for convenient tenant inter-floor travel.

The building exterior contrasts finished white concrete with brick at the first floor, and cypress screens at the front balconies above. The stairwells are enclosed with finished white concrete and decorative clay screen tile. Sliding-glass doors open onto the balconies from the living areas. The front apartments on the upper floors have a view including offshore islands.

Gulf Towers consists of 115 units, having six different apartment types. The total construction cost of the project was approximately $1,800,000.


This article is reprinted from the February 1964 issue of the Mississippi Architect, with permission from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. To view the full February 1964 issue of Mississippi Architect in a digitized format, or other articles in this ongoing series, including the pdf version of each full issue, click on the MSArcht tab at the top of this page.

Categories: Architectural Research, Biloxi, Gulf Coast, Modernism, Recent Past

15 replies

  1. What a fabulous documentary!!!!! This is wonderful. I am amazed at your ability to find photos and info on such wonderful things from our past. God bless you for your research and caring!


  2. Thanks GSTONE–regular readers and commenters like you make it even more fun and interesting!


  3. I was fortunate to live in Gulf Towers in 1968 and 1969. Yep! We crazy Air Force guys stayed in our 7th floor apartment through Hurricane Camille! Allen Rogers


  4. I’ve found a file of my Dad’s listing the original owners, et al. I’m looking to post costs, etc. when I dig into it. It was built by Jackson businessmen (and Jackson architect and Contractor.) Anyway, I’ll pass on any info I find!


  5. My wife and I liveds there in 1983-1984. I was attending training at Kessler AFB. We lived on the 8th floor on the back-side. Our balcony allowed us to see the gulf from a side view.


  6. Anyone remember the name of the lounge or bars that were here….


  7. Seeing the Tower photos brought back good memories! My wife and I lived on the 6th floor in 1967 and left in early 1968 for a new assignment in New York state. I was an AF officer assigned to Keesler AFB. Our first daughter was conceived at Gulf Towers and born in 1968 at West Point. Enjoyable place to live. First class apartments at that time!


  8. My husand and I lived there as newly weds for 3 months in early 1968 when he was a civilian in training at the BX at Keesler. We had a one BR style D apartment on the back side. Was always impressed with the lovely trees around it. . Have always wondered if it survived Camille. Very thankful it did and also Katrina. I drafted plans for architects for years afterwards, so I really appreciate the floor plans.

    Thanks so much for posting this article


  9. Came across this today while doing a bit of nostalgic research, and was so pleased to see the photos and info. Thanks so much for bringing back some fabulous memories for my husband and myself. He was stationed at Keesler for his first assignment, and we loved our five years there in the mid-seventies. We stayed at Gulf Towers for a year or so before moving to base housing. It was a wonderful time for us, and now hard to believe that it was forty years ago. We are in our sixties now, and hope to soon return to Biloxi for a nostalgic visit.


  10. My late wife and I lived here for about six months in 1971. We were newlyweds at the time, having been married in the base chapel at Keesler AFB. Our apartment was on the Gulf side of the building, on the ninth floor, at the southeast corner of the building. At the time, I was attending electronics/radar maintenance school at the base.

    It was nice to have the self-contained amenities on the ground floor of the building, like the laundromat and the lounge.

    I see that the balconies were removed when the building became a hotel; no doubt for safety reasons. On a nice evening, we would have dinner on our balcony and watch the lights come on along the coast.

    We left around May, 1971, as I was being assigned to a base near Tokyo after graduation from tech. school. That may have been a good thing! Our neighbor across the hallway, a teacher, said that with the high humidity in the summer, she had to run the air conditioning 24/7 or her clothes and shoes would mildew!



  11. I lived on the 9th floor facing the gulf in 1996! I loved it!


  12. My husband and i lived in this building in 1980 so glad to see this i wondered what happened to it


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