When John and Barbara Fales made the decision to move to the Coast in 2004 to be closer to family, they looked for an old house to call home.|
It was a two-bedroom Victorian cottage, one block west of the Biloxi Lighthouse, that caught their attention.
Built circa 1880s, the Fales also bought the lot next to the house with plans to eventually add on and provide more landscape for the couple's hobby of gardening.
"Every time we dig in the yard, we find marble or pieces of glass," said Barbara. "We've dug up old buckets, old brick, pipe, medicine bottles... it's an adventure every time."
Although the house is 50 feet above sea level and Katrina's surge wasn't a problem, the winds spawned a tornado that peeled off the roof.
The rain did not destroy the original hardwood floors and fireplace, but the storm did provide an opportunity for John to exercise his building skills.
After the couple returned to their home three days later, work immediately began on exterior repairs to help enhance "curb appeal" with the hope others would stay and also rebuild.
"We planted a lot of trees and flower beds," she said. "We've had several people stop by and say how nice the house looks and how glad they are we put it back together again."
John also fulfilled a promise to his wife and built a studio behind the house for Barbara to have more room for her leisure pastime of designing stained-glass windows.
The next phase of renovations will cover remodeling the interior of the cottage by relocating the kitchen and adding a bath and bedroom.
Regardless, the Fales are determined not to change the "look of the house."
"It's been there for 120 years and it would be a shame to sell it off," she said. "There are so few of those houses now because we lost so many to the storm, and it's even more important now to the area for it to stay in its original glory."