Before Katrina, the Barrett-Clower House at 424 E. Beach Blvd. in Gulfport was known as the oldest home in the city, being built in 1834.|
Originally built by a family from Clinton, the antebellum home was one of a few vacation mansions built before the settlement of Gulfport.
In 1901, Thomas Hickman Barrett was appointed to Gulfport by the governor of Mississippi to serve as judge and bought the 3-acre homesite from the original owners. Catherine Clower Thornhill, granddaughter of Judge and Minnie Barrett, said her grandparents were first settlers here.
The home was later sold to daughter Olive Barrett and her husband, Thomas Simeon Clower, parents of Catherine, in 1930.
Covered with large oaks and magnolia trees, the property was dotted with many camellia bushes cultivated by Tom and Olive.
Though Katrina destroyed the large house, family and friends will remember the beautiful spiraling staircase and tall ceilings. The large, middle foyer was surrounded by massive bedrooms. The first and second floors presented large outdoor galleries extending the length of the home where the Gulf breeze was easily accessible and the view of the Gulf beautiful, according to Catherine.
Plans are pending for the future of the property, which is shared among five Clower heirs. Catherine, who lost her Southern style cottage next door to "4-2-4," where many family gatherings were shared between the two homes, said, "I knew after Katrina that my home was gone, but I plan to return to my birthsite."
Catherine remembered the plaque that hung at her cottage that simply said, "bon temps," the French expression for "good times." She will be sure the family who lost its heritage home will have a place to gather for many more of those good times.
PATRICIA "TSH" HANCOCK