Going Inside: Cathedral of the Nativity, Biloxi

I came across this postcard showing the inside of what is now known as the Cathedral of the Nativity in downtown Biloxi and realized I had taken a picture of almost the same view a couple of years ago to compare it to. The Gothic Revival church was built in 1902 after a fire destroyed an 1870s building. New Orleans German-born architect Theodore Brune designed the structure, which was built by John F. Barnes, who was also overseeing the construction of the New Capitol in Jackson at the time.

The new altar of rose-pink marble and the art glass windows were installed during the centennial year, the altar being donated by the leading Catholics of the parish.

The new altar of rose-pink marble and the art glass windows were installed during the centennial year, the altar being donated by the leading Catholics of the parish.

Although the postcard is undated, it gives us a clue in the phrase “centennial year.” A trip to the well-researched and detailed Nativity website tells us the centennial year of the church occurred in 1943, so the postcard probably was published soon thereafter to show the renovations that had recently occurred and the new stained glass windows. I would suppose that even though this was the middle of World War II, the church probably experienced an influx of people from nearby Keesler Field, and in fact, the website notes that personnel from the base laid the terrazzo floor (in one night!). Hand-colored postcards sometimes took liberties with the colors they chose, but the blue ceiling with gilded ornament looks right, although the interior is more bright with the current cream coloring.

Cathedral of the Nativity (1902, Theodore Brune; J.F. Barnes)

Cathedral of the Nativity (1902, Theodore Brune; J.F. Barnes)

Cathedral of the Nativity (1902, Theodore Brune; J.F. Barnes)

Cathedral of the Nativity (1902, Theodore Brune; J.F. Barnes)

Cathedral of the Nativity (1902, Theodore Brune; J.F. Barnes)

According to the Cathedral’s website, 30 airmen from Keesler laid the terrazzo floor in one night in 1942.

Cathedral of the Nativity (1902, Theodore Brune; J.F. Barnes)

Next time you’re in downtown Biloxi, stop in and go inside yourself!



Categories: Biloxi, Churches, Cool Old Places

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6 replies

  1. My grandfather, Lloyd T Moon, a parishioner and local construction company owner did repairs after Hurricane Elena in 1985 (there was extensive roof damage) and then a complete renovation in 1989. The wainscoting that covers the walls throughout the Church, my grandfather had made, out of the wood of the original pews. Much of the marble you see that was added in the 1940s and didn’t match the original gothic aesthetic, was removed and used to create a baptismal font. The marble altar is now used in the Marian Chapel which was also built in 1989. My grandfather, now 85 is still the primary responsible with overseeing all maintenance and repairs to the Cathedral. In fact he is the only one that knows the exact paint colors used on every inch of the building. Even the carpet coloring and furniture including the Cathedra (Bishop’s chair) were chosen by him. His last big project was a few years ago when the Church replaced all the exterior window coverings with lexan. Before that he was the primary in charge of the renovation of the Sacred Heart Center which was the old Sacred Heart School. It was a special project for he and my grandmother, who is 84 herself as she went all through school at Sacred Heart Academy. Another note is that my grandmother’s Uncle, John T. Collins was the architect of Sacred Heart and also acted in the same role my grandpa before him in caretaker and maintenance of all facilities of the Church. We know that my grandfather won’t be helping much longer as he grows older and less able to work as he used to so we are working on creating a manual for the Church so that when he is gone one day they have a complete history and information on all of the elements of the building to pass on to future generations.

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  2. The manual sounds wonderful!

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  3. Nice photos.

    This is a Catholic Cathedral, right? The article has some clues that suggest it is but it doesn’t specifically say so.

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  4. So beautiful and interesting!!!

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  5. Beautiful church! Wish the blue and gilt remained; the uniform cream-ness is tasteful but unfortunate.

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