Villa Rosa, thought to have been built in the 1860s by Italian boat builder and brick yard operator Louis E. Dolbear, had in every room the artistic touch of its latest owner. |
Ocean Springs artist Sharon Dodds had painted trompe l'oeil screens and floors, even created mosaic floors from local pottery shards after she and her botanist husband, Ross, renovated the vine-covered Italianate style house on Front Beach. They furnished it in French and Italian antiques and showcased art from Europe, New Orleans and the Coast.
After Katrina, a friend drove by and remarked that the Dodds had been able to bulldoze faster than others. They hadn't. The house was reduced to a small pile of rubble by the storm, much of the rest carried blocks away.
"It's odd what survived in that rubble," said Sharon Dodds. "Metal fared terribly but I found a demitasse cup and a piece of crystal. The grand piano is face down three blocks away, but I found my tambourine complete with ribbons. The angels are deciding where my musical talents will go."
The Dodds consider themselves luckier than many because they were renovating a smaller house three blocks away that received little hurricane damage.
"We plan to press on and remember the grand times on Front Beach. We have wonderful memories of that house."
- KAT BERGERON