BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Now that the 1894 state flag, with its Confederate battle emblem, has retired, the old flag— supported by many— could be classified as a collector’s item, a piece of history. There continues to be tremendous interest in that flag among supporters and history buffs at Beauvoir.
For a weekday, a pretty good crowd of visitors filled the gift shop at Beauvoir, the historic last home of Jefferson Davis. Many are drawn to this shrine by the Confederate history of the property, the home and the presidential library.
Some are here to buy state flags— now that Mississippi has pulled the trigger on changing the controversial banner.
“It has blown up. Since June 1, we’ve sold over 230 Mississippi state flags. We normally sell anywhere from five to ten a month,” said Beauvoir program coordinator Kitsaa Stevens.
With Confederate symbolism being removed from 21st-century life in Mississippi and around the country, finding items with this imagery is becoming harder and harder and expected to only become less available in the future. Beauvoir’s long time suppliers are confident they’ll be able to maintain supply for now.
The pandemic has devastated the travel and tourism industry, and Beauvoir has taken a hit in terms of overall traffic. Nonetheless, a steady crowd of visitors streams into the Highway 90 property.
“We’re averaging about 180 people a day, which is not bad considering everything that is going on. Our normal guest count in the middle of summer is 200 to 250, so 180 is not bad,” said Stevens.
Here’s another chapter in the story, which could involve Beauvoir. Confederate monuments like this one at the Harrison County courthouse are under the spotlight. Many are calling for them to be removed.
When New Orleans took down statues, Beauvoir reached out to the city, asking for the monuments. Would the board of directors agree to accept banished Confederate statues and memorials to integrate into the story at Beauvoir?
“Our main goal is for you to keep that monument in your city or town. If you feel you can’t do that, we’d be open. That would be up to our board to pursue,” Stevens answered.
Another issue being discussed at Beauvoir is security. The board of directors are aware of threats and have brought in extra staff to monitor the property.