The fresh golden yellow paint catches your eye like the rising sun. Then you notice that the Biloxi beachfront house is still standing. Then you notice it looks whole. Walls intact. Big porch. No broken or boarded windows.|
Is that a water hose sprinkler snaking on the grass lawn?
1464 Beach Blvd. is a rare sight driving on U.S. 90. It's the only house that looks liveable from the Biloxi Strip to the Biloxi Lighthouse. Not long after Katrina, Dr. Edward Aldridge propped a piece of painted plywood on his porch that sadly declared "The Last House Standing."
At that time the 1875 house had boards over broken windows and doors. It's taken Aldridge 10 months to get this far, which doesn't mean he can move in yet. But soon.
"I am so fatigued, getting to this stage," says the physician who obviously stays in good shape but faces a myriad of post-Katrina supply and rebuilding challenges.
Aldridge for now lives in a 1920s garage apartment, which also survived. The father of three college-agers bought the property 15 years ago when on a get-away weekend as a Jackson anaesthetist. He spotted the "For Sale" sign, called on his cell and put down a deposit that day.
"And I never thought about having a house on the Coast," said Aldridge, now one of the physician-owners of On-Call in Ocean Springs. "I walked in and the house was so sturdy. I'd never seen anything like it."
That included a location that is among the highest on Biloxi beach with a home featuring tall ceilings, unusual woodwork, heart of pine floors, five no-two-alike mantels with coal fireplaces, an unfinished bathroom mural and a secret room that Aldridge didn't discover for a year.
Several feet of Katrina's surge deposited a thick layer of mud over it all, and Aldridge watched it all happen, including the sad and frightening breakup of his neighbors' houses.
"This is a great old house," he said. "I'll be back in soon."
- KAT BERGERON