Living

This turn of the century Biloxi hotel was a place that made this young girl feel like a princess

The 11-year-old Mary Wier remembers her 1956 visit to the Beach Manor Hotel made her feel like a princess living in a palace.
The 11-year-old Mary Wier remembers her 1956 visit to the Beach Manor Hotel made her feel like a princess living in a palace. Courtesy of Randy Randazzo

On April 25, 2004, this same photo of the Beach Manor Hotel, which stood in Biloxi on the northwest corner of U.S. 90 and present-day Dukate Street, was the subject of a Flashback article.

Imagine my surprise when I received a letter of appreciation, dated July 28, 2017, from Mary B. Wier in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

After 13 years, Mary found the article online, and it brought back memories of when she was 11 years old in 1956, when she and her mother made a summer trip to Biloxi and stayed at the Beach Manor.

Mary was so impressed with Biloxi and the Beach Manor, she wrote a little story about her experience. “The trip gave me my first sight of the Gulf of Mexico,” she wrote. “When we turned on the beach highway, I felt the breezes and salt air blow over me, and I was transported to a whole new world ... it looked like paradise to me, and when we got to the Beach Manor, to me it looked like a palace for a queen.”

She went on to describe the open windows, with “gauzy white curtains blowing in the Gulf breezes,” and exploring the hotel inside and out.

When Mary went to the hotel’s second floor, sometimes there was the strong smell of frying onions, because “a famous allergy doctor stayed there and he treated asthma patients by having them breath it in.” She also describes a little writing desk, where she pretended to write to “important people” on Beach Manor stationary.

“I often look back and re-live my visit,” she said. “It makes me feel its beauty and mystery . . . perhaps it was the magic of Biloxi itself, too . . .”

This photo is dated Sept. 23, 1909. That is just a day after the Sept. 22, 1909, hurricane occurred and left the debris that is shown the foreground.

The Biloxi Sanborne fire insurance maps indicate that the Manor was built between 1893 and 1898. Hurricane Camille in 1969 destroyed this original structure, but it was soon replaced by a new brick building. After being in business on that same corner for about 100 years, the Beach Manor was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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 phone number to Flashback, Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535; call 896-2424; or email living@sunherald.com.

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