Although Beauvoir eventually became the final home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, it was not built for him. The house was originally built by a man named James Brown as a summer house for his wife and family. They called the home Orange Grove because of the many Satsuma orange trees on the property. The property stayed in the hands of the family until Mr. Brown's widow was forced to sell in 1873 for taxes due on the estate.
A land speculator bought the home for the taxes, but sold it about three months later. A woman named Sarah Dorsey became the next owner of the home. She is credited with naming the house Beauvoir because of the beautiful view of the Mississippi Sound that she saw from her front porch.
Jefferson Davis was looking for a place in the area in which he could write his books and called on the friend of the family, Sarah Dorsey. Mr. Davis explained what he was doing in the area and she invited him to stay on at Beauvoir. He paid fifty dollars a month for room and board. He lived there for two years before he discussed buying the property from Sarah Dorsey. A deal was struck for $5,500.00 to be paid in three installments. He made the first payment, but within six months Mrs. Dorsey had passed away. When her will was read he was the sole heir of her estate and the property became his.
Jefferson Davis lived in the home until his death in 1889. At that time his daughter, Winnie, became the owner of the property. She died in 1898 and Varina, the widow of Jefferson Davis inherited the estate. Mrs. Davis eventually sold the estate to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. She had two stipulations. The first was that the home be used for Confederate veterans and their widows without charge. This happened from 1903 until 1957 when the last three widows needed nursing home care. The second was that the property becomes the memorial to Jefferson Davis and the Confederate soldier. It has been run as such since 1903.
Hurricane Katrina did significant damage to the structures and not all of the buildings on the property have been rebuilt or restored. However, there are plans to rebuild the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Museum. Beauvoir is now open three hundred and sixty three days a year from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm seven days a week. There are tours of Beauvoir House available and the admission is nine dollars for adults and five dollars for children.
The Beauvoir House holds an annual Beauvoir Fall Muster in October. The muster presents the sounds, sights and smells of an 1860's environment. They also re-enact Civil War battles on the Saturday and Sunday Fall Muster days. Guests can also turn a Lincoln penny into the likeness of Jefferson Davis with the Penny Machine that is on the premises. The cost is fifty one cents to do so.