Belle Fontaine translates in French as beautiful spring or beautiful fountain. A large chunk of the Jackson County community is favored by people who can afford homes directly on the Mississippi Sound. |
The beach is historically subject to storm erosion, and the marshy areas are wildlife havens. Belle Fontaine is one of the few Mississippi Coast beach fronts with most houses raised high on stilts, much like those found on the Alabama and Florida coasts.
There are records that families lived on Belle Fontaine as early as the 1770s.The graceful, historic mansions' elevated status impressed Hurricane Katrina not at all. The massive storm surge blasted the homes off their stilts, leaving nothing but the foundations as testimony to their existence.
The day after Katrina, Sun Herald photographer David Purdy hired an airplane from Pensacola and flew across the Mississippi coastline to get a bird's-eye view of the destruction because land travel was so difficult and dangerous. This "after" is one of the images he captured that day.
- KAT BERGERON