The refinished oak floors were so gorgeous that Dan Burrows noticed his guests hesitated to walk on them, "as if they were fine furniture." |
Burrows, a retired Chevron draftsman, bought 209 Washington Ave. in Ocean Springs in 1960. He spent decades restoring the Queen Anne cottage and maintaining a garden that attracted attention.
"When I moved there, all the fancy woodwork that is part of the Queen Anne style had disappeared and I put a lot of it back. The front porch had been enclosed and I undid it."
To have the cottage reflect its true nature, Burrows traveled the Mississippi Coast and Pensacola to find similar houses and photographed them. Then he labored in his woodworking shop in the basement.
Burrows never researched the house but former Ocean Springs Mayor Ernie Schmidt told him his grandfather built it in 1904. The tin roof overlaps cedar shingles. The wood construction is of heart pine with joists and rafters of cypress. It was a solid house that took a lot of upkeep, as old houses are wont to do, "But I always did all the work myself."
Katrina undid a lot of it. The surge knocked it off some piers and the once-beautiful floors are buckled.
"At casual glance, the house looks OK, but anyone with knowledge of construction realizes it's not," Burrows said.
The back outer walls are gone and the south side is bolstered by the debris of his neighbor's house. Much of the gingerbread is gone, too, because he removed it thinking the house would be bulldozed.
But this is in a protected historic district and his plans are on hold as Burrows and the city's historic preservation committee discuss options.
"It's not beyond repair," Burrows said. "It's beyond reasonable repair and investment.
"In the best of worlds, I would like to see a brand-new house on the land that I built. I've told the committee that I would probably repeat the looks of the front of the house because it is beautiful, but I would use new materials that don't constantly need work. I'd want closets and a laundry room.
"Now what I want to do with the house is get it off the lot ... If I can get it moved and it will benefit some organization or nonprofit group, I'd be happy."
- KAT BERGERON