The 1887 Pleasant Reed House was the only known remaining Mississippi Coast home of a former slave and it was the cornerstone of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art's emphasis on African-American culture. |
The house was saved in 1979 when Delta Sigma Theta sorority bought and maintained it until grants paid to move it to the new museum campus in Biloxi.
The Reed family story echoes the black experience. At 35, Reed became a landowner and later felt so strongly about his rights that he'd work an extra day to pay his poll tax and vote.
The house was open to the public as the rest of the Frank Gehry-designed museum was being constructed. As Katrina approached, curator Dora Faison carted to safety the archives, including original drawings.
"Pleasant Reed's legacy will be preserved," said Ohr director Marjie Gowdy. "We definitely want to rebuild and will form a task force before Thanksgiving. However one of the things we'll talk about is a slightly different function for the replica, something that will make it more 'alive,' such as a residency for crafters."
Little was found of the house.
With wind-stripped trees, the Gehry-designed Center for Ceramics is more visible.The center will be the first part of the new construction to open, possibly in 18 months.
- KAT BERGERON