Update July, 2017: I'm glad this story continues to be read, five years after I posted it. It wasn't and isn't a definitive history of the place, but if you read the comments section at the bottom there's a lot of info that expands on my one encounter with this strange and beautiful property. Additional comments are most welcome. Enjoy!
Update September, 2019: Nick Wooten has written a great story on the Mansion and its history in the Biloxi Sun Herald News. It connects many of the dots found in the comment section below. Nick’s story of the mansion property is the most complete I know of. Read it here: The cattle. The yacht. The fires. We solved the mystery of the Bay Coca-Cola mansion
Update September, 2019: New gallery of photos taken on original visit, all in full color. View new photos here.
Original story, posted August, 2012
My soon-to-be brother in law took us out on his boat to cruise the Jordan River near where it empties into Bay Saint Louis, about 30 minutes east of New Orleans. We caught sight of a stately old house that backed up to the river. Chris told us it had been abandoned since Hurricane Katrina and was the home of a family associated with the Coca-Cola company. As we got closer we could tell the property was defunct but the house reasonably intact. Later, with a little help from Google Maps we were able to figure out how to drive up to a side entrance of the property.
With a little trepidation Heather and I hopped over the gate and set out on a quarter mile hike through overgrown fields up to the old homestead. Except for a puddle or two the path was clear. A theme was emerging: everything about this place looks more forbidding than it actually is. As the pictures show, there's waste and decay visible everywhere. The structure of the house seemed surprisingly sound, though. With all of the doors and most windows gone there was plenty of light inside. The place would be plenty scary at night, but by day it seemed almost welcoming. Not surprisingly we weren't the first folks here to feel welcome – everything seemed well-picked over in the way of furnishings, souvenirs and whatnot. As we poked around the ground floor, Heather asked if planned to go upstairs. We agreed we'd evaluate that one step at a time. Surprisingly, though the stair rails were all gone, the steps all felt sound and we felt safe and comfortable everywhere we explored.
I'm not sure when the house was built but I'm guessing it was sometime around the turn of the century.* From what we could tell it looked like it had been updated in the 1980s with somewhat tacky additions: A dorm fridge in a bathroom, a huge wall-mounted TV that reminded us that wall-mounted TVs weren't cool before the flatscreen came along, and some questionable wallpaper choices.
Like I said nothing was really as forbidding as it seemed at first look. Of course, everything looks way more, ahem, everything in black and white, so these photos had to get that treatment. I might say calling this place a ghost house would be milking or pushing things save for one thing: Looking for information about it online can be downright elusive. After Googling various terms I was originally able to find some photos and references, but when I sat down to write this post all of them seemed to have disappeared from the internet. Of course that just means that I've forgotten the combination of search terms that originally made Google give up some facts, but it's fun to think that hide-and-seek has a more supernatural cause.
*It's been suggested in the comments section that the house was built around the more recent turn of the century, circa 2000, or perhaps the 1970s to 1980s. Whatever the correct date, I'm quick to concede that my original guess was almost certainly far off the mark. Comments also suggest that the property has a provenance that goes back earlier than these dates.