The President Casino Broadwater Resort was a combined casino and resort that was located in Biloxi, Mississippi. It was a fixture on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for over 60 years.
Originally known as the Broadwater Beach Hotel and Broadwater Beach Resort, it opened in 1939 as a venue for the illegal but tacitly approved gambling that was flourishing along the coast. In the late 1950s and 1960s, the gambling stopped and the facility was renovated and re-purposed as a resort destination with a state-of-the-art marina and other amenities. In its heyday the Broadwater Beach Resort hosted movie stars, leading politicians, and top business figures as well as people on vacation. It became the Gulf Coast's flagship resort and its colorfully lit front sign was iconic.
In 1992, President Casinos gained control of the facility, and after changing the name, added a casino riverboat and barge. The casino had a successful niche following among lower-end gamblers, but the problems of the parent company resulting in bankruptcy filings in the early 2000s. In 2005, new owners closed the resort and casino shortly before Hurricane Katrina destroyed them.
The Broadwater Beach Hotel was built in 1938 by investors seeking to gain the business of gamblers coming to casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.〔 pp. 18, 19.〕
It opened in 1939, and was built in Art Deco style.〔 The first owner was Pete Martin Sr., a well-known gambler and rum runner along the coast.〔 He openly ran a casino within the hotel, as even though it was nominally illegal at the time,〔 gambling was part of the social and economic fabric of Biloxi.〔 After Martin died, openly illegal gambling was frowned upon, and new owners tried to appeal to just the tourist market. In 1958, it was bought by Joe Brown, a Texas oil millionaire.〔
Following his death in 1959,〔 his widow Dorothy Brown, who was a noted New Orleans philanthropist,〔 renovated the property for a more modern look, including a wide arched canopy in the front.〔 In the early 1960s, the Mississippi Gulf Coast was emerging as a prime alternative to Florida as a southern vacation destination, and the Broadwater Beach Resort was considered the pacesetter for the area. In 1963, Dorothy Brown spent $3 million to build a marina and a heliport.〔〔 The Broadwater Resort Marina plan was especially ambitious, involving hosting up to 150 sail and powerboats, and offering shore-to-ship maid service and room service to those docked, all in an effort to capture blue-water game fishing business.〔 When the marina opened in 1965, it was considered state of the art. In 1968, she built the Broadwater Beach Sun Course on land originally owned by Jefferson Davis, and thus added golf as a prime attraction for visitors;〔 by 1974 a Sea Course was also present. During the 1960s, a men's store was present in the hotel. For entertainment, the hotel featured musicians from New Orleans and elsewhere.〔(【引用サイトリンク】 title=Joseph Enroughty: The Guy Lombardo Society )〕 From the 1950s on, operational control of the hotel and resort rested with Leigh MacConnell, one of the few women to rise to the top of the local hotel industry in that era. In the 1960s the Broadwater Beach Resort found its glory years.〔 Hosting movie stars, leading politicians, and top business figures, as well as people on vacation,〔 it became the Gulf Coast's flagship resort.〔 During this decade, the iconic and colorfully lit Broadwater Beach Resort front sign was added.〔
Hurricane Camille devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast in August 1969. The resort golf club pro and his wife fought for their lives as the storm wrecked their pro shop apartment.〔 pp. 91, 97, 129–130.〕 The hotel's first floor was carved out by the storm surge, expensive furniture floated out of the lobby, and the marina suffered moderate damage.〔 But the resort rebounded and by 1977 it was described as a "bustling colony of rooms, cottages, restaurants, golf courses, tennis courts, and its own marina." Conferences were held there, and the Broadwater Beach Hotel was the setting for a fictional regional sales meeting in the 1982 Frederick Barthelme short story "Box Step".
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