The Dantzler House was many things in its 1½-century history, from a fine home for cotton planters and lumber magnates to a Catholic school to the headquarters of the Biloxi Tricentennial Commission. |
The most recent plan for the Historic Register house at 1042 Beach Blvd. was to be the Biloxi Mardi Gras Museum, and many carnival artifacts were there in storage as exhibits were planned. The museum was to open in 2006. Katrina claimed the Mardi Gras paraphernalia and the house, too.
"The only thing saved from the Dantzler House was eight stained-glass windows found in the middle of a pile of rubble," said Bill Raymond, the city's historic administrator. "So far on the Mardi Gras items, we've been finding a tunic here, a broken piece of a crown there.
"Maybe some of the items are still at the bottom of a pile of rubble."
The house, described in a New Orleans newspaper as a "princely mansion," was built in the early 1850s by John Robinson, an Englishman and cotton planter. Later owners altered the Victorian look, and in the early 1900s it changed again to a Colonial Revival style.
The Dantzler name of the house reflects an important lumber family, and it was from them that the Catholic diocese bought the property in 1921. It became Notre Dame High School and was also used by the sisters of Little Flower Convent of Mercy. The city became the owner after Hurricane Camille.
The future of the Dantzler property, which is near the historic Biloxi Lighthouse, is undecided. "The city will have a Mardi Gras museum but we don't know where yet," said Raymond. "It's too important a part of our history to let it go."
- KAT BERGERON