- Plan for plenty of time for walking the grounds and visiting the museum. Beauvoir is much more than a house tour
- It’s not a state or national park. The Son’s of Confederate Veterans operate the estate so tailor expectations with that in mind
- Don’t go to the “zoo”
In almost all things one can say expectations are key. With that said, my expectations were high for Beauvoir. See, I love history, The South and pretty much all things southern so the retirement home of Jefferson Davis seems like a perfect place for me to visit. A historic southern home overlooking the Gulf on over 50 acres! The reality is I’m not sure my expectations could’ve been met if Jeff Davis walked out and shook my hand.
Pulling in off HWY 90 we stop at a guard shack looking building. A lady comes out wearing a hoop skirt. She’s nice but a little rough in appearance and tone, smells like cigarette smoke and gives a slight impression she’d been drinking. Appearances aside, though, she was very helpful and friendly.
After becoming old friends with the lady we park in the gravel lot and make our way towards the main house. The next tour started in less than 15 minutes so no time was wasted shuffling the whole crew to the front porch. From the porch you can see acres of oaks, the Gulf of Mexico and feel a nice southern breeze. I could sit in one of the many rockers and stare at the huge ceilings, massive original windows, and intricate detail work for hours. But I can’t because it’s tour time.
Our guide looks like a younger version of the lady at the front gate. She’s wearing a similar dress but she’s no southern belle. From the beginning she gives some sort of rules for the tour. I didn’t hear them because the rat (my two year old) was screaming at me. The group, maybe 15 of us, walk inside and stand in a large foyer/hall that stretches the length of the house. Our guide stands in the front corner and talks for about 20 minutes about the house and Jefferson Davis and that sums up 90% of the tour. She asks question that seem to be about as simple as, “what color is the sky?” Tour guest look at each other as if it’s a trick question because why would someone ask the obvious? Her arm tattoos, complete lack of smile and or course the rules she gave didn’t help crowd interaction. Besides the main hall, four rooms are set up to peek into but not enter. We all glance at the painting on the ceilings. Pretty much painted on trim. Quite a disappointment if you’re hoping to see great detailed mill work. About this time my mom’s cell phone rings and I see a look of terror of the faces of other tour guests. She answers and talks quietly on the other side of the house. Our guide stops the tour and glares at her. After awhile telling my mom to step out the back door. I know she shouldn’t of answered the phone in there but the guide should have handled it much better. Maybe phones were covered in the “rules” we missed. Anyway, the other 10% of the tour takes place on the back porch and that’s that. We head on to look at what else the estate has to offer.
Directly behind the main house is a really nice garden. Many plants are at full bloom and it smells great back there. I can tell the garden is maintained very well and it shows. We follow a trail that leads us to an old confederate cemetery. This one is quite unique because there is a book with the photos of all buried and their wives. You can look up a person, see their picture, find the respective grave number and visit the burial site. I didn’t. I skimmed through the book and caught back up the family who was already headed back towards the main tourist areas.
Adjacent to the main house and garden is a museum with plenty of artifacts, videos, and a confederate library. This is a very nice, very large building that I wish I could of spent more time in but everyone was hungry so we settled at a picnic table on site for lunch.
We didn’t know prior to showing up that a small petting zoo type thing exists on site. Our tour guide eloquently stated how the camel tries to eat people and isn’t well behaved. Despite this, we give it a shot. About 100 yards in we see an alpaca, or something, sitting in the shade. It doesn’t mind me getting close to take a picture but doesn’t want to be friendly either. Just past is a sign that reads, “Nature Trail” I peek down and see nothing but animal poop covering the boardwalk. Then I look around and realize it’s everywhere! Zoo trip’s over kids.
Everyone gets ready to load up to go while I view Davis’s library where he wrote several books. The library is detached from the main house and I must say, it was a very neat feeling to be standing alone in his library. It has the same views as the main house of the water and trees and I can’t help but wonder how he felt while being in here. Happy? Saddened? Tired? I know the family is waiting on me by now so after a few pictures I make my way back to the car so we can do some more exploring of Mississippi.
Overall this wasn’t a bad trip but the site is ran by the Mississippi division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. My recommendation to them: put more smile and southern hospitality in your tour.