White Hall, a two-story Colonial Revival in Pass Christian, was the kind of house that gave the Pass its architectural distinction. It was also among the most toured homes for the past decade because the owners at that time loved the hospitality role.|
"Not everyone opens their houses for tours, but my family loved that house and we had fun showing it," said Dee Havens. "We got to meet a lot of interesting people.
"If people wanted a fundraiser, they'd ask us."
White Hall was included in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Spring Pilgrimage and the Pass Christian Historical Society's Pilgrimage.
Behind the antique-filled, circa-1885 house was one of the Pass' oldest structures, a cottage built in the 1830s and a second cottage that served as a guest house. The Havens, who are from New Orleans and also have a house there, had so much space at 1024 West Beach Blvd. it spilled over with friends and family.
Although little is known about early White Hall, the Havens were told the galleried house was built by developer John Henderson as a replica of a "Mrs. Stith's" Virginia plantation home. One story is that during construction, Mrs. Stith climbed the roof rafters, in a dress, to help nail. She is also thought to be the Pass' first librarian.
"We are from New Orleans and we bought the house about 10 years ago," Havens said. "My husband is in the oil business and at the time we had the money to restore it.
"I kept telling him I wanted to look at 'the big white house.' When I walked in the front door I looked up and saw 16-foot ceilings and a 30-foot wide foyer. It was the most gorgeous house I've ever seen."
Now in their 70s, Prentiss and Dee Havens decided to downsize from White Hall and its eight acres. Nine months ago they sold to a woman who owns other large houses across the country, and as is often the tradition in the Pass for these nonpermanent residents, ownership names are closely guarded.
After Katrina, the Havens called the new owners with the sad news that White Hall is gone.
- KAT BERGERON