A cotton farmer from Mobile built 1828 Beach Drive as a Gulfport summer home, at least that's what Carol McDaniel was told. |
"You can tell it was someone with money because there are inlaid floors and high ceilings and a bell to ring for servants," said McDaniel, who raised her two college-aged sons at the beachfront home that is on the service drive north of U.S. 90.
The house was built around 1905, then enlarged and renovated in 1988. When McDaniel and her professor husband Skip evacuated for Hurricane Katrina, they didn't take many mementos because they believed water wouldn't get that high, as it hadn't during Hurricane Camille.
The McDaniels watched The Weather Channel from their evacuation site in Montgomery, Ala., and it just happened that meteorologist Jim Cantore was giving live reports from the Armed Forces Retirement Home, a stone's throw from their house. They knew their house was in trouble when Cantore was forced to move to higher ground because of rising water.
"I told my husband I just couldn't deal with a slab," she said.
That's not what Katrina did. A number of things swirled into what was the den, and she actually has some "Katrina distressed furniture," including a coffee table that landed atop the military home fence.
The first floor of the house is gutted, much of the beauty of the original workmanship is gone, and the support walls on the west side are missing. The upstairs is intact.
"Our builder has said it's saveable," she said. "It could come back to life some day; we just have to wait and see. I feel the community should have some sort of push to rebuild our history on the beach and not let it go to high-rises.
"The sunsets that we used to watch are still beautiful. You can't take that away."
- KAT BERGERON