Grounds of last home of Confederate president reopen to tourists

Published 5:05 pm Wednesday, April 9, 2008

For the first time in more than 2 1/2 years, parts of the last home of Jefferson Davis have reopened to tourists.

The Beauvoir museum was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The grounds and a temporary exhibit in the gift shop reopened Monday, after extensive repairs.

The Beauvoir house itself will not open to the public until June 3rd, which is Jefferson Davis’ birthday.

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Museum Curator Richard Flowers isn’t just telling visitors about the history of the Confederacy. Now he’s also telling the story of Katrina.

“Our first exhibit here is based on the damage from Katrina. The actual storm itself,” Flowers said Monday. “We have some artifacts that received damaged and we have a few items that have been conserved or repaired as well, but it gives you an idea of the impact we had from the storm.”

Employees said the hardest part was starting from nothing. The best part is just being open for business.

Gift shop manager Rosemary Potter said, “To be in a trailer, that’s fine. That’s great. It’s just that we have something to show the public and say that we’re back. We really are and we have a lot to offer.”

The exhibit in the gift shop is free, but visitors do have to pay for a tour of the grounds to see how Katrina affected the 52 acres.

Most of Monday’s visitors said they just happened inside, not realizing it was Beauvoir’s big return.

Natalie Harris of Carmel, Indiana said, “Any time that you can really see the past, it helps you know what that time was like. It helps you really embrace your history by being able to visualize it.”

Flowers said the work is continuing.

“We’re not fully back yet and won’t be for a while, but are at last open after over two and a half years. So it feels great to have the opportunity to let the people back in on the property,” he said.