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Biloxi Landmark-State’s First Library
The following is an article that appeared in the
November 21, 1976 edition of the Clarion-Ledger

(Click on the image on the right to view a larger image)


Biloxi Landmark in Bicentennial Plaza
Cottage Once Tourist Home...
Then State’s First Library

By Carl McIntire - Sunday Editor
Photo by Chauncey Hinman
_________________________

The Clarion-Ledger
November 21, 1976

A little white cottage, neatly painted and looking brand new, sits in a prominent place facing the Bicentennial Plaza at Biloxi -- that newly developed shopping and recreation center across from the City Hall.

But this is no new structure, no shopping paradise. It is instead one of the city’s significant landmarks, placed in this position of honor and distinction on purpose as a part of the heritage of the oldest town in the state.

Once the cottage was the first, and we suppose at least for a time, the only, free public library in the state.

However, the story of the cottage goes much farther back than that.

Researchers are apparently unsure of really when the building was erected, but it is believed to have built in about 1836 by John DeLoni to serve the tourist trade that had already found the Riviera of America.

The house in that era was a block south of its new site, near the coast. It has withstood all the hurricanes through about 140 years.

Until about 1900 It was "just another house", albeit a small one, until the King’s Daughters established Mississippi’s first free library in its rooms. It was used in connection with a private school.

As the building of the first free library, it has its singular title that affords it the historical significance to have it removed to the Bicentennial Plaza, just in front of the new city library and art gallery that is under construction, to be opened soon.

The entire plaza is a work of art made possible by Hurricane Camille.

When the storm ripped out a large section of near-downtown, the city decided on the plaza idea and it has come to fruition. Nearly completed, with new fronts on the stores, and a mall atmosphere created, the section will soon be a coast showplace.

There is a park in the center, with a playground for children, and all around are the civic buildings and the "new" stores.

It is to Dr. H.J. Schmidt, Sr., that the people of Biloxi, and the state, are indebted for the preservation of the old first library building. He gave the house to the city, which saw to its restoration and removal.

 
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