Dr. Philip Hage and his wife, Sadie, spent the early 1980s traveling through Louisiana and Natchez, camera always ready to capture features of antebellum houses they admired. |
"We took those pictures and made a composite of a home we wanted to build," the Gulfport dentist explained, then paused with a laugh. "I guess you could call it 'pseudo-antebellum.'
They found a local contractor, Clayton Lehman, willing to work with the photographs, and in 1983 the Hages moved into 640 East Beach Blvd.
They delighted in their 7,000-square-foot house that combined the best features of several centuries of ideas. Rooms were large and seemed to flow into each other, making it a great house for parties and family gatherings with their five children.
The Hages once permitted their house to be on a home tour, the Westminster Academy's Tour of Kitchens, and their big kitchen was much admired.
"You know how it is, even when there are lots of other rooms, everyone gravitates to the kitchen," he said.
Katrina whisked away the inviting kitchen island - and everything else but the slab.
"We loved that house and I'm going to rebuild," said Hage, whose wife died four years ago.
"I'm going to duplicate it and hope to break the ground this summer."
Hage's slab is 17½ feet above sea level but he plans to raise the new house three feet more. Instead of looking like it will be on a hill, though, he intends to terrace the lawn.
Three doors down, attorney Jim Wetzel and wife Garnette are the first to begin rebuilding.
"I understand there are two or three more who plan to rebuild homes here," Hage said. "I don't think East Beach will ever go condominiums. We'd all fight it like crazy if they try to go condo here."
- KAT BERGERON