Early Family History: Ned O’Keefe immigrated from Ireland in the early 1850’s, married an Irish girl and settled down in Ocean Springs. Mary ran a boarding house, a large two story building with wide verandas. They had two children, Jeremiah Joseph I, and a daughter who died at the age of fifteen. Following the Civil War, Ned returned and started a Livery Business with his son Jeremiah which eventually became O’Keefe Funeral Service. Jeremiah Joseph I graduated from St. Stanislaus Commercial College, Bay St. Louis in 1870 and returned to work in the family business. In 1887, he met and married Alice Cahill. Jeremiah and Alice had five children. The third son, Jeremiah Joseph II, nicknamed Ben, joined his father in the family business. When his father died a year later, Ben took over the business.
O’Keefe Home: The O’Keefe Home, at 911 Porter, is Neo-Classical Revival Architectural. It was originally built in 1909 by Jeremiah J. O’Keefe (1859-1911) as his residence. A boarding home was operated on the property prior to the Big Home being built.
The O’Keefe family lost it during the Depression. It was acquired by W.F. ‘Willy’ Dale (1899-1990) in December 1939 and served as a restaurant and lounge with spinning serving tables for about forty-five years. It also housed Trilby’s Restaurant at one time.
The house was owned by William “Willie” Dale over all the years that it was out of O’Keefe’s ownership. The White Oak Inn closed in the early 1980s, and Willy Dale retired to his home at East Porter Street. In July 1986, the Willy Dale family sold the White Oaks Inn back to the family. Jeremiah J. ‘Jerry’ O’Keefe III (b. 1923), the grandson of the builder, bought the property in July 1986 for Gulf National Life, an O’Keefe Corporation. A ceremony was held on the grounds, and after signing the warranty deed giving title to the O’Keefe family, Willy Dale said, “Folks, the first day [of owning this building] was fun and the last day is fun too.” (JXCO Land Deed Bk. 863, p. 159 and The Ocean Springs Record, July 3, 1986, p. 2 and July 10, 1986, p. 2)
In December 1987, Jerry O’Keefe, with the architectural services of Bruce Tolar, completed the restoration. The refurbished property has been used as the Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home since this time. Today, Jeffrey H. O’Keefe (b. 1956), Rose and Jerry O’Keefe’s son, is the proprietor of Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Homes, Inc.
Fun Facts: Jerry O’Keefe and his two brothers were born in the front southeast room of the house. Their older sister, Alice, was born in the hospital out of an abundance of safety in that she was the first born of Teresa Slattery O’Keefe.
The house was originally raised and sat on brick pilasters up closer to the street…………but then later was moved back and lowered as the street was being developed.
There was a fire once that burned the back end of the house fairly badly but was brought under control.
O’Keefe Livery Stable
The O’Keefe Livery Stable served the Jeremiah J. “Jerry” O’Keefe family and Ocean Springs for many years as a venue for drayage and transportation services. The business commenced after the War of the Rebellion by Edward “Ned” O’Keefe (1815-1874), an Irish immigrant. After Ned passed away, Jeremiah O’Keefe (1860-1911), his only son continued in the livery and drayage business eventually becoming the town’s undertaker probably in the early 1890’s. By 1926, the O’Keefe family had let the building to William F. “Willy” Dale (1899-1990). Here he commenced the Dale Motor Company. Willy repaired motorcars and sold gasoline and petroleum products here for many years.
Both the O’Keefe Home and the O’Keefe Livery Stable buildings were restored in 1986 after they were reacquired by Jerry O’Keefe. The Livery Stable is now a display room for the Funeral Home and has one of the original funeral horse-drawn carriages on display.
Visitors can visit and view the properties.
Livery Stable Fun Facts:
In the early days Ocean Springs was known for natural artisan wells. These springs were touted to be of a healing nature and so people would travel by stagecoach or train to Ocean Springs to bathe in the springs. The waters would simply flow up out of the ground in various places. The Livery would meet these travelers, transport them to the local hotel, and out to bathe in these natural artisan springs. The Livery stable kept the horses which were used to transport people around town.
Address: 911 Porter Avenue
City: Ocean Springs
Accessibility: accessible ramps; accessible bathroom; accessible parking