Project updates from Biloxi

Back in June JR Gordon reported on the rehabilitation of the White Pillars restaurant in Biloxi. Since the restaurant has been closed since the early 1990’s my interest was piqued and I went by for a look. Work has been underway since the summer and lots of progress appears to have been made. The great news is that the terrible canopy has been removed and you will once again be able to see the front of the building and the white pillars that give the place its name. According to the MDAH HRI the Classical Revival style structure was built as a residence in 1920. I hope the channel-set neon letters sign spelling out “White Pillars” will remain. After Katrina the White Pillars sported one of my favorite signs spawned by the storm. I’ll just let the sign speak for itself.

Post Katrina keep out sign, White Pillars Restaurant. Biloxi, MS Photo c. 2007

The White Pillars was quite the historical sight for many years until the renovation project got underway earlier this fall. In mid-November the Sun Herald ran another article that listed the cost of projects that were either under way or had applied for permits in Biloxi. The White Pillars was listed at $750,000.00.

A project I was interested to learn about from this article was that the former Santa Maria del Mar apartment tower on the Beach in downtown Biloxi will be restored. The price tag for this project is listed as $24,000,000.00. This is a large sum but compared to paying millions of dollars to demolish the building and then building a structure of equal square footage, 24 million is very economical. Just to give a comparison, the brand new Hard Rock Casino expansion which is slightly smaller square foot wise that will not have near the same facilities, was listed in the article as costing more at 24.6 million. Hopefully we’ll learn more (maybe a start date) about this project soon. The structure has several different finishing techniques. This includes ribbed concrete similar to a finish on the Lamar Law Center at University of Mississippi we saw in Susassippi’s’ post on the Brutalist building earlier this week. From a distance the exterior stairs give a cool checkerboard pattern. While the Santa Maria del Mar apartment tower is not “historic” yet, it did survive Katrina and it is nice to see a phoenix rise from the ashes. Unlike the other post-Camile beach front buildings that were demolished for lots of nothing (double entendre intended), this rehabilitation will allow the building to have the chance to be historic some day.


[Ed note. Jan 2013] Based on the lack of progress at the Santa Maria del Mar tower I am led to believe that the article was referring to the new Santa Maria del Mar complex on Popp’s Ferry Road and not the Santa Maria del Mar tower on Highway 90.  In the Sun Herald article the locations were not given for the projects.  It was my error for assuming the entry that stated “Santa Maria del Mar” was referring to a new complex and not the existing tower.

Categories: Biloxi, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Hurricane Katrina, Recent Past, Renovation Projects

9 replies

  1. Great details on the Santa Maria del Mar!


  2. I heard that the Santa Maria del Mar would be a hotel, though I have yet to hear further details. Great news about White Pillars! If only the White House could follow along in its wake to be restored!


    • That’s interesting about the Santa Maria becoming a hotel. The sun herald article was the only mention I could find about the project and in full disclosure i was unable to determine if it was the beach front tower or the new diocesan development north of Biloxi. I hope you are right, maybe these projects will inspire development of the White House hotel.


  3. I’m sort of speechless re: the wall sign, but i really shouldn’t be. I see a branding opportunity.


  4. Google “White Pillars Biloxi” and go to their facebook page for lots of cool pix and updates


  5. Please visit for more infomation on the White Pillars project. It follows the history, from its construction as home to Dr. and Mrs. H.M. Folkes (then known as Gunston Hall), and its heyday as the White Pillars Restaurant, to the renovation project undertaken in May of 2012. In addition to photo galleries, there is a virtual tour.


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