New documentary, events mark Biloxi’s Historic Preservation Week

Old Lighthouse Photo

A photo of the Biloxi Lighthouse after a hurricane in 1915. To see other images, click here.

A free film festival featuring the premiere of a 10-minute documentary about the history of the Biloxi Lighthouse will be one of the events highlighting Biloxi’s celebration of National Historic Preservation Week, which is May 3-7.

The new documentary, titled “The Light that Spells BILOXI,” makes it debut Tuesday evening at the Saenger Theater. It is narrated by former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley and traces the colorful history of Biloxi’s signature landmark. The film, which was underwritten by a Tidelands Trust Fund grant, also features aerial photography by the Mississippi Wing of the Civil Air Patrol.

The Lighthouse short will be part of the free Heritage Film Festival Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Saenger Theater, which is at 170 Reynoir St. The festival will feature two other documentaries: “The Measure of a Man-The Life of Pleasant Reed,” and “Biloxi-The Past Remembered,” a Harrison County-funded documentary created and narrated by Biloxian Maxine Sablich.

After the films, a reception will be held in the theater lobby, and all guests will receive a copy of “The Buildings of Biloxi: An Architectural History.”

Biloxi’s celebration of National Historic Preservation Week actually kicks off Tuesday afternoon during the City Council meeting when Mayor A.J. Holloway will read a proclamation about the importance of preserving history, particularly in a 300-plus year old community such as Biloxi.

During the council meeting, the mayor also will formally present two recent national and state awards the city received — the Preserve America Community Designation certificate presented by First Lady Laura Bush March 18 in Washington, and the Mississippi Heritage Trust Award of Merit for the Saenger Theater restoration, presented April 23 in Hattiesburg during the state preservation conference.

The celebration will end Friday at 5 p.m. at the Old Brick House with a reception honoring longtime preservationist Jane Matthes Owen. Ms. Owen recently donated a pair of urns originally belonging to her grandmother, Linda Lienhard Dukate. The urns were in the yard of the Dukate home on Howard Avenue for many years. The urns, given to Ms. Owen by her mother, Beula Dukate Matthes, will be unveiled at the reception.

Contact: Lolly Barnes, City of Biloxi Historical Administrator, 228-435-6244.