Mississippi Unbuilt: Alternative appearances for two lost landmarks

I enjoy viewing architectural renderings of buildings.  They often show a structure as its designer intended and depict the building at its peak of glory, though often the reality of a situation sets in and prevents that pinnacle design from being achieved.  Within the past year I’ve run across several drawings that show two hotels differently than how they ended up being constructed.  Both buildings were planned and built long before their design could have been effected by the stock market crashes in 1929.

The first is the Biloxi Edgewater Gulf Hotel.  While the principle of a long narrow building is central to the design, the as-built staid appearance with the single dominant tower on an asymmetrical facade is not to be found in the original rendering. Instead three low towers and pitched roofs give the building a slight oriental appearance.  The rendering appears in the August 15, 1925 issue of ‘Way Down South, an illustrated weekly magazine dedicated to promoting the development of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  By November 28, 1925 a different and more recognizable rendering of the structure was shown in ‘Way Down South.  This second rendering, while still not what was built is much closer to the final design.  This closer resemblance is likely due to the fact that the image bears the signature of  the building’s architect Benjamin Marshall of Marshall & Fox. Chicago, Ill.  Since the first rendering is not credited to an author it’s possible that Marshall was not yet involved with the project.  While it’s possible that this was an alternate design, it also possible that a lowly draftsman tasked with creating the entourage (MissPres AWOTW Noun #3) around the building had no bearings and incorrectly placed the Gulf to what would have been the north of the building. An image that depicts the building as built can be seen on the January 19, 1941 menu in the collection of Johnson & Wales University that was recently shared with us by Johnson & Wales librarian Erika Gearing.  If you haven’t seen the menu yet, click that link to see a very cool piece of culinary history with an architectural twist.

The final rendering that depicts a building not as it was built is of Biloxi’s ill-fated Tivoli Hotel.  This rendering appears in the October 30, 1926 issue of ‘Way Down South.  At first this rendering struck me as accurately depicting how the structure was built. But upon further studying this rendering signed by the Tivoli’s architect Carl Matthes one sees a much larger, more elaborate Tivoli Hotel.  Matthes’ rendering depicts a structure with a seven-bay front piece flanked on either side by three bay plains, rather than what would be built; a five bay front piece that would be flanked on either side by four bay wide wings.  The proposed structure sports more neo-classical filigrees than what ended up on the constructed building.  The one similarity I noted is that both the structure and the rendering had eleven openings in the colonnade.  At the time of this post I have not been able to verify if ‘Way Down South ever ran a more accurate rendering of the building. This all just goes to show you never know what your favorite building may have been intended to look like when it grew up.

Categories: Architectural Research, Biloxi, Demolition/Abandonment, Hotels, Lost Mississippi


4 replies

  1. I also noticed on the Edgewater menu than the back listed 3 other hotels to visit, including the Alcazar in Florida. I wonder if they were related to the Alcazar folks in Clarksdale.


  2. The Wakulla Springs Lodge was owned by the same corporation as the Edgewater (the Wakulla-Edgewater Corporation.) Sadly, while the Wakulla Springs Lodge survived, the Alcazar (Biscayne Boulevard at 5th Street) did not. It was swept away as casually as the Edgewater.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: