This post is a bit of catch-up from a quick trip I took to Ocean Springs right before my trip to France–I forgot that I hadn’t posted the pictures I took that day of three important repair and rehab projects funded through the Hurricane Relief Grant administered by MDAH’s Gulf Coast Office in Biloxi. These three projects are great examples of the types of damage and the situations in which the historic buildings on the Coast have found themselves since the Katrina.
I knew of these houses because of my experience on the Coast after Katrina, but even if I hadn’t, the projects are easily visible because of the MDAH signs placed in front of the buildings identifying them as grant recipients. First I checked in on the Walter Anderson House at Shearwater, the homeplace of the famously artistic Anderson family. The first time I saw the house after the storm, it was tossed into the edge of the woods that surrounded it, off its foundation, just hanging on. As of late March, it is back on its foundation, and looked pretty much done on the interior as well, although it’s not occupied. Katrina washed away most of the other residences at the Shearwater compound, which is listed on the National Register.
Next I drove down to East Beach to stop at the Charnley Houses, whose story I told last summer in the Katrina Survivors series. Progress has been very slow on this Louis Sullivan and/or Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house, and no work has been done since the pictures shown in that post last summer. But I’ve heard that a great deal of research and planning has been going on behind the scenes so that this will be more of a restoration than a renovation. Hopefully we’ll see some of the results of that in the near future.
As I headed out of town, I stopped in at the “Steamboat House” that was featured in the Katrina documentary “Building Blocks,” released last summer. It’s looking in better shape than we saw in that film and seems to be weathered in, although it was waiting for a paint job and the interior was not finished. I especially enjoyed the sidewalk art made by pressing broken colorful tiles into the wet cement.