Gulfport, Harrison County
The eight story Markham Hotel in Gulfport, Mississippi was built in 1926. It was designed by Chicago architect Benjamin H. Marshall. The firm of Marshall & Fox were designers of many lavish hotels and apartment buildings across the United States including Chicago’s Drake Hotel, and Philadelphia’s Schaff Building. The firm partnered with Mississippi architect N.W. Overstreet to assist in the project. The Markham Hotel is one of two hotels designed by Marshall built on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the other one, the Edgewater Gulf Hotel in Biloxi, was demolished. The Markham Hotel was named in honor of Charles H. Markham, the former President of the Illinois Central Railroad.
When the hotel opened to the public on January 31, 1927, it was a central figure in a bustling and thriving downtown. It featured many of the amenities of the day; a large lobby with a grand staircase lined with marble and wood paneling, a swimming pool, a roof top terrace, and several dining establishments.
The hotel changed ownership in the 1960’s when it was acquired by Security Savings and Loan. It was then transformed into an office building in the 1970’s. The building saw a renovation in 1987 and was rechristened the Markham Building. It continued to operate as office space until Hurricane Katrina caused significant damage in 2005. The Markham still remains much as it did after Katrina. As has been the case with numerous buildings along the coast, the need to “clean up” the damage from the storm has threatened the survival of this local landmark and last of the great coastal resort hotels of the 1920s.
2015 Update – No Progress
Plans to restore the Markham Hotel have stalled with the failure to increase funding for the state historic tax credit.