All is not well at Jefferson Davis’s postwar home of Beauvoir. [The website is downright ugly.] The news article linked to here is poorly written so it is difficult to piece together the nature of the dispute, but there seems to be a rift between Bertram Hayes-Davis (the former president’s great-great-grandson) and the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, which owns the site.
The dispute is, in part, over the display of the Confederate flag on the grounds at Beauvoir. Beauvoir has undergone extensive renovation since Hurricane Katrina. A new presidential library was built along with exhibit space. From what I can tell the disagreement over the display of the flag has everything to do with lagging visitation and revenue. At the center is Hayes-Davis.
Bertram Hayes-Davis and his wife, Carol, came to work at Beauvoir in July 2012. She volunteered as the head of programs and events at Beauvoir. He left his job as the head of oil and gas assets management at JP Morgan Bank in Dallas after he got a call from a board member asking for his assistance. He oversaw the opening of the library and the completion of Varina’s Garden, which recreates the garden of Davis’ wife, and with his resemblance to his grandfather and extensive knowledge of the family history, became the spokesman for Beauvoir.
Hayes-Davis said he said he got support to create interactive displays at the Davis library from the Smithsonian, the Senate Archives, the Department of Archives and the Capitol Architect, and began creating a partnership with the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior. “With all these efforts, and the highest regard to the future and successes of Beauvoir, there has been from the first day an air of resistance from the board and the chairman,” he said. He now is no longer on the board of directors he served on for years and all mention of Davis’ direct descendent is removed from the Beauvoir website.
Andi Oustalet, who was named “Volunteer of the Year” at Beauvoir is also concerned about the future of the site.
Last year, she also organized a three-day celebration for the opening of the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library. She quit when she arrived for the ribbon-cutting and saw a Confederate battle flag hanging on the Beauvoir mansion, so large that it covered from the edge of the roof to below the porch. Outstalet said she asked Forte to remove the flag that could be seen from U.S. 90. “This attitude has got to go so that property can survive and be a part of our history,” she said. She later agreed to return and produce the second year of her three-year commitment to Christmas at Beauvoir. Unless the board reverses its decision, she won’t be there for the third year.
Apparently, management is consulting with the Virginia Flaggers on how to respectfully and tastefully display the Confederate flag. I visited Beauvoir once years ago. It’s a beautiful site and one that deserves to be preserved and professionally interpreted. It looks like the Mississippi SCV is capable to doing neither.