Month-long preservation series kicks off Thursday

Biloxi this week will kick off its month-long “Thursdays in May” program, an award-winning series that offers residents and visitors a chance to explore the past at five different venues each Thursday in May.

The program, now in its fifth year, features an educational outing at a Biloxi venue each Thursday in May, usually with a free luncheon or reception. The month-long celebration, which is conducted in conjunction with the celebration of National Preservation Month, has been recognized with awards from the Mississippi Heritage Trust and the Mississippi Main Street Association.

“This is a great opportunity for people to come out and learn about the history of their community in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Biloxi Historical Administrator Bill Raymond, who organizes the program with co-sponsoring Biloxi and Biloxi Bay chambers, Main Street Biloxi, Biloxi Public Schools and the Local History & Genealogy Department of the Biloxi Public Library

“We will distribute ‘Passports through History’ that will be stamped at each program,” Raymond said. “Everyone with a passport who receives at least three stamps will receive a commemorative gift for their support of local preservation at the event on May 31.”

This year’s locations include the new Biloxi Public Library, the Rue Magnolia section of downtown Biloxi, the Old Brick House, the Dukate building at Biloxi Public Schools, and an awards presentation finale at the Biloxi Visitors Center, where those who have attended at least three programs will receive a commemorative gift.

Thursday, May 3, 11:30 a.m. luncheon:
The first program begins with an 11:30 a.m. luncheon at the Biloxi Public Library, at 580 Howard Ave. Lori K. Gordon of the sponsoring USM Katrina Research Center, will present “The Labat Project,” which chronicles the life of a South Mississippi Creole Family. The Labat Project was funded through a Mississippi Humanities Council grant and will give the Thursdays in May a genealogy kickoff. In fact, after the free luncheon and through 5 p.m., visitors to the library can take part in an open house to trace their own family roots. For information about The Labat Project, visit

Thursday, May 10, at 5:30 p.m.: A short walking tour showcases three historic downtown properties that house arts-based organizations. The tour begins at Gallery 782 Co-Art, 782 Water St., where visitors can learn about the Old Spanish House and the mission of its current arts cooperative tenant. After the brief presentation, participants will walk one block west on Water Street to the Rue Magnolia, and then half a block north to the recently-restored Slay House, where a representative of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi will explain the building’s historic significance and its role as the new satellite facility of the Craftsmen’s Guild. The third featured building is next door, the Creole Cottage, which houses the Dusti Bonge Art Foundation. Guests will hear the history of Biloxi’s first library and learn the fascinating story of Biloxi native and female abstract expressionist Dusti Bonge. The walking tour returns to Gallery 782 for a dessert reception.

Thursday, May 17, 5:30 p.m.: The Old Brick House on Bayview Avenue is the setting for a program that also begins at 5:30 p.m. Bill Raymond, Biloxi executive planner and historic administrator, will presents an overview of post-Katrina restoration work completed on site as well as future plans. He also will provide a brief update about the Biloxi Mardi Gras Museum. After the presentation, Charles Sullivan, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College archivist and author of the new book “Gulf Coast Album: A Journey in Historic Photographs 1899-2011 from New Orleans Across the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Mobile,” will autograph his new book, which will be for sale on the site. The city and the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area will sponsor a reception after the presentation.

Thursday, May 24, 5:30 p.m.: The fourth program is hosted by the Biloxi Public School District in the Dukate Building at 1445 Father Ryan Ave. The program will showcase the first two oral history videos developed by the Biloxi High History Club as part of their ongoing project. Student videographers will be available to answer questions and representatives with the Local History & Genealogy Department of the Biloxi Library will share information about related material archived in its collection. Chartwells, the firm that operates cafeterias at Biloxi Public Schools will sponsor a reception after the presentation.

Thursday, May 31, 5:30 p.m.: The month-long celebration will conclude with the 2012 Preservation Awards at the Biloxi Visitors Center. The bi-annual awards are presented to individuals, organizations, and businesses to recognize those actively working to preserve Biloxi’s historic buildings and well as those working to preserve, promote or expand access to local historic resources. A reception will follow the awards presentations, sponsored by the City of Biloxi, Hard Rock Casino and the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce.

Make a nomination: Those wishing to submit nominations for the preservation awards can find a form on the city’s web site (to see the form now, click here.)

More info: For more information about “Thursdays in May,” contact the City of Biloxi Historic Preservation office at (228) 435-6244 or by email at