The Tivoli Hotel in Biloxi was one of the few remaining Grande Dame resorts of the 1920s – a roaring time when the Mississippi Gulf Coast was known as the American Riviera. The hotel was featured as an apartment hotel with 64 guest rooms on four floors. The first floor contained a striking barrel-vaulted lobby with a magnificent ballroom to one side and the large dining room to the other.
According to the newspaper accounts the Tivoli opened “in a whirl of dancing, a kaleidoscopic blaze of color and a musical festival of barbaric jazz.”
Through the years, many attempts have been made to restore the building to its former glory, including plans to turn it into a halfway house, a resort, and a health center. Despite these efforts, the building sat empty, waiting to be called a Grande Dame once again.
2015 Update – Lost
Through the years, many attempts were made to restore the building to its former glory. However, despite those efforts, the building sat empty and deteriorating. During Hurricane Katrina, the hotel suffered damage from a casino barge that slammed into it. According to engineers, the structure was salvageable, but the owner decided to have the building demolished during the clean-up efforts. It was finally demolished in May 2006.
In October 2009, blogger Tom Barnes wrote a touching tribute to the Tivoli Hotel and explained how its demolition transpired:
“After Katrina, it is questionable if there was really any hope that the building could have been saved. Any real hope for its salvation was likely obliterated when the land was rezoned for waterfront gaming. While not the determining factor in the fate of the Tivoli, the presence of a ruin on such valuable land may been seen as an impediment to the redevelopment of the property. The Tivoli was demolished with almost no public discussion about the possibility of saving what remained. The availability of tax credits for historic preservation went unnoticed as well. The fact that it vanished without a trace must serve as a lesson of what can easily slip through the cracks of a great disaster. Unless there is active willingness to save a landmark, it can easily slip away with the tides.”