Eight years ago, Dan and Susan McManus were coming home from their Waveland beachhouse rental when they noticed a woman nailing a For Sale sign in front of 304 Nicholson Ave.
   Within a matter of minutes, they parked the car and bought the two-bedroom cottage.
   "When we bought it, it had been vacant for seven years and the yard was overgrown," Dan said. "We wanted to move here permanently and I just saw the potential it had."
   After investing $100,000 to add three rooms, a garage, guest house, a pool, and a patio-like structure called a pergola, the McManuses made the transition from Abita Springs, La., to South Mississippi.
   The couple turned the back yard into an oasis with tropical landscaping that provided a pleasant setting for their eldest granddaughter's wedding under the pergola four years ago.
   But in 2004, she passed away from a brain tumor, and a year later, they suffered another loss when Katrina destroyed their home.
   The precious memory of sharing their granddaughter's life at the Waveland home gave them the determination and strength needed to rebuild in the same location.
   The McManuses chose an Arts and Crafts architectural plan for the new 1,800-square-foot house with stucco pillars, two bedrooms and a front and back porch.
   While Susan was recovering from surgery in Arizona, Dan rebuilt the guest house, restored the swimming pool, and at his wife's request, replanted a tropical vista.
   "We had the unique distinction of being the only FEMA trailer in Waveland with a pool and a guest house," he said. "It was our oasis in the midst of chaos and destruction."
   Two weeks ago, they moved into the only house standing in their neighborhood south of the railroad tracks.
   "All day long, people stop by and comment on the house. One day, three cars had slowed down, stopped and they started to clap. That's the first time I came close to crying since my granddaughter died."