After starting his New Orleans financial advising company, Roland Hymel Jr. was offered 711 North Beach Blvd. at a price he couldn't resist even though it was early in his career. It was 1964.|
He'd take his family to the Waveland beach house for weekends and bring his clients for seaside retreats. Then came Camille and away went the house.
The property remained empty for 20 years while Hymel built a large company and an office building to go with it. Eventually he realized such hours can shorten one's life, so he retired and began his retirement home.
"I spent one year and two months building it myself and loved the change of pace," said Hymel. "I was basically the carpenter's helper. Every morning at 6 I'd meet with the carpenter and he'd tell me what he needed and I made sure everything was on site. I lived on the property and was there for every step, so I probably know more than most people do about their houses."
Realizing what Camille did to the standard-built house already on the property when he bought it, Hymel consulted engineers and academics on building for hurricanes, something to withstand 150 mph winds. The floor was 20 feet above sea level; his roof tiles weighed 9 pounds each and the flooring was a special leather-look Brazilian ceramic tile. Every room had a water view.
He and his wife, Mary Ann, called the 4,500-square-foot house Deja View. A Louisiana State University landscape architect class worked up plans for the four acres and they thought they'd be there for life.
"I was very surprised that the house went in the storm," Hymel said.
His plans are to rebuild and do what he did with landscaping, endow a university class willing to study rebuilding on the sturdy concrete and steel that survived. When Hymel finishes repairing his New Orleans building, he plans a break before restarting Deja View, and he hopes that will be in the spring.