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Flashback: Grandest of all Coast hotels for decades

Murella H. Powell

COURTESY RANDY RANDAZZOCrowds cheered on July 27, 1971, after the first blast of explosives showed the hotel still standing. It took 475 pounds of dynamite to finally bring it down.
COURTESY RANDY RANDAZZOCrowds cheered on July 27, 1971, after the first blast of explosives showed the hotel still standing. It took 475 pounds of dynamite to finally bring it down.

Grand hotels were prominent on the Mississippi Coast in the 1920s, but the grandest of all was the Edgewater Gulf Hotel.

The view pictured here is the back side of the Edgewater Gulf Hotel about 1940. Chicago's influential architect, Herbert G. Marshall designed the Edgewater Gulf to be the sister hotel of the Edgewater Beach Hotel of Chicago.

Some people who shop at the stores (Belk, Books-a-Million, etc.) in the eastern section of the Edgewater Shopping Center in Biloxi may not be aware that they are walking where the hotel once stood.

The property ran 600 feet along the Gulf and 1 1/2 miles back to the Bay of Biloxi. The hotel sported nine floors, 400 rooms and a 200-foot tower.

So, why was the hotel built facing the north and the L&N Railroad instead of south and the the Old Spanish Trail (U.S. 90)? The hostel was built to draw northern and mid-western visitors who traveled the 2,200 miles on north/south trains and then along the L&N to the hotel's own train station.

Colored lights animating from the tower welcomed VIPs from Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and other cities to the Edgewater's grand opening on Jan. 10, 1927. They found an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, horseback riding, boating, Gulf swimming and a large outdoor glass-enclosed swimming pool.

After 41 years of economic ups and downs, the grand lady was scheduled for demolition on July 27, 1971.

Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event in the Coast's distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and daytime phone number to Flashback, the Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535; or call 896-2424; or email living@sunherald.com.

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