COMVEST's current development pipeline includes these projects.
Constructed at the turn of the century and carefully restored in the late 1960's, this Biloxi landmark was for 20 years one of the South's most prestigious restaurant properties.
The Folkes Family and Gunston Hall
Dr. Hyman McMacken Folkes, a native Mississippian and 1894 Tulane Medical School graduate, was the physician who established a sanitarium along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, called the Biloxi Sanitarium. Dr. Folkes’ contributions to the medical community and the health and welfare of the Mississippi Gulf Coast were important and significant.
Dr. Folkes married Teresa Lopez, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lazaro Lopez of Biloxi, on June 4, 1900. In November 1900 the home of Dr. and Mrs. Hyman McMacken Folkes, was swept in flames in the fire that destroyed over 80 buildings in downtown Biloxi. In 1901 the couple began planning the design of their new home to be located outside of the city limits on Rodenburg. The house was constructed of solid masonry and hand-made brick. During their lifetime, the Folkes referred to their new home as Gunston Hall.
The architectural style of the house is Neoclassical Revival (1895-1950), it has a two-story portico featuring four ionic order columns and follows the rule of restrained use of decorative details. The builder, Thomas J. Rosell, followed the design discipline and concept of correctly proportioned classical orders and symmetry on the south elevation. Pilasters appear at the corner of the building. This was a popular architectural style on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at the time of construction.
The fireplace in the west downstairs room is made of rosewood. The original woodwork was constructed at 17 cents an hour. The fireplace in the main room downstairs is constructed of ballast stones left on the shores of the Gulf Coast by European ships in the 1800’s.
The Mladinich Family and White Pillars
In 1968 the property was purchased by the Mladinich family and converted from multi-residential units into the White Pillars Restaurant and Lounge.
When the property was purchased, the original parcel was not intact. During the 1950s the front lawn, 50 feet north of Highway 90, was sold and developed as a Phillips 66 Gas Station. With the back of a gas station at the front door, the Mladinich family added a New Orleans styled enclosed courtyard to shield the view. This became the popular “patio garden room” of the White Pillars Restaurant.
White Pillars Restaurant and Lounge opened shortly after Hurricane Camille. The original structure was kept intact creating 7 dining rooms. The carriage house and formal garden were converted into a lounge.
The bar came from Pete Martin’s Famous Door Lounge in downtown Biloxi. The mahogany bar was originally a fixture in the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Doors that flank the east wall of the lounge came from the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans and are over 150 years old.
In all, three generations of the Mladinich family contributed to its culinary success. The menu featured an array of flavorful and full-bodied cuisine that was unmistakably characteristic of the Mladinich’s creative food knowledge and dedication to quality.
White Pillars was honored in 1988 and 1989 by The Wine Spectator for having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world. Travel-Holiday Magazine awarded the restaurant the 1989 Distinctive Dining Award. Food Editor Robert Lawrence Balzer stated that, “The gracious service matches the grace.”
White Pillars Renovation and New Construction
The most noticeable change is the removal of the glassed courtyard room. The beautiful front façade of the building is exposed for the first time since the ownership of the Folkes. The interior courtyard is under construction as an additional dining room. The renovation plan modifies existing rest rooms to meet the new ADA guidelines and add two new ADA compliment rest rooms south of the kitchen.
A tenant / operator is being sought to bring the restaurant to life.
Available for Lease.