City seeks to begin restoration work in cemetery

The City of Biloxi is aiming to kick off the New Year with a project that will restore the oldest and most storm-ravaged section of one the oldest landmarks in the city, the Biloxi City Cemetery.

The $300,000 project will see repairs made to more than 200 headstones and 10 tombs in the beachfront cemetery. Dozens of gravesites, some dating back to the early 1800s, were ravaged by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29.

The city, which is awaiting final FEMA approval on the project, has been coordinated with FEMA, MEMA and with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

The work, says Mayor A.J. Holloway, represents the restoration of an area that historians believe could date back to the 1700s.

This month, the city completed a $50,000 project to replace a fence on the western and eastern perimeters of cemetery.

The new work — which will be performed by low-bidder Kenneth R. Thompson Builder of Greenwood and is expected to be completed in 180 days — will focus on repairs to a 40,000 square-foot section of the cemetery, the area facing U.S. 90, where a new brick and wrought iron fence will be replaced.

“The Biloxi City Cemetery is one of the oldest landmarks in our city,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said. “Graves there date back to the early 1800s and some historians maintain that burials took place there as far back at the 1700s. This is an important part of our history, and, like so many things, it will be an important part of our future.”

The process to begin the restoration of the cemetery actually began months ago, with the city publishing a full-page legal notice in an attempt to locate owners of plots or family members of those buried in the cemetery. To see the notice, along with pre- and post-Katrina photographs of the damaged area of the cemetery, click here.