Fulfilling a dream of owning a business that would use her knack of making people feel welcome and her love of gardening and cooking, Nikki Nicholson moved from New Orleans and bought Bay Town Inn Bed & Breakfast in 2003.
"When I saw the house, I knew if I didn't pursue it I'd have regrets. Katrina didn't make me sorry. I'm glad I did it," Nicholson said.
"Many of the guests who came will be friends for a lifetime. They came to the Bay not only to enjoy the inn and the shops and restaurants, but also the calming atmosphere that Bay St. Louis provided."
The art and antique-filled B&B at 208 North Beach Blvd. in the Bay was swept away. On the property stand two oaks, including the one that saved Nicholson, a dog and two others who made it to the tree when the 1899 house disintegrated.
Built by the deMontluzin family, the 4,600-square-foot house had eight guest rooms and a cottage and was turned into a B&B in 1991. The DeMontluzins used to tell the story of how that particular savior oak was a young tree about to be pulled up by a road crew when it was saved by the family.
"What's next?" said Nicholson. "As everybody is, I'm waiting on the outcome of insurance, possible SBA loans and for Beach Boulevard to be reconstructed because there is no more lawn in front of my house. I can't make any decisions until I know how I fare financially.
"My dream is to build another B&B in a style that would be right for the Bay St. Louis community."
- KAT BERGERON