Cheryl High bought the Gulfport office at 2001 15th St. in 1994, and as she scraped the outside to repaint, old-timers stopped to ask that she not change the paint to beige as planned. Since 1922, the color had been barn red.|
"It was an office, but it originally was a house and home and had all those good vibes in it," said High, who bought the downtown building to enlarge the real estate agency that carries her name.
The old-time color remained.
The house was built on the corner of 15th and 20th Avenue in 1922 by Judge Sidney Mize, the lawyer-adviser for the Jones family that founded Gulfport.
The land her new office was on was part of the original Jones tract that the family gave to Gulfport with stipulations that it would always be used for the good of the people, and that includes waterfront Jones Park and such buildings as the public library and Chamber of Commerce.
Gulfport got the entire tract except for the corner that Mize built on, because the Jones family made an exception for him. Mize ordered a 2,200-square-foot Sears & Roebuck house that came by rail and was assembled - three bedrooms, 2½ baths, hardwood floors, fireplace and porches on the front and back.
Those who remember the Mize era stopped to share stories. Between the Mize and her ownership, the house was a law office. At one point, High had to fight eminent domain threats when a parking garage was planned for a new courthouse.
But it was Katrina that took the office. Wind blew out the back record room, surge knocked it off the foundation and two hickory trees crushed the roof.
The storm forced her to rethink priorities. She's downsized her agency from 12 agents to three or fewer and is now on U.S. 49.
"Katrina changed so much but it's not all bad," she said. "I'd never have given up that wonderful place, but now that I don't have upkeep on the building I have more freedom to do things I've always wanted to, like working with the Humane Society."
- KAT BERGERON