Belvedere was one of Pass Christian's grand houses, often on home tours and spotlighted nationally, including in National Geographic's "Hidden Corners."|
Cherry Phillips Pugh called 800 West Beach in Pass Christian an "architectural masterpiece" because each of the 22 rooms, including seven bathrooms, had a view of the Mississippi Sound.
She first stepped into the National Register house, built in the 1890s, when she and Sidney honeymooned. They'd visited the Browns, the family that owned it and Brown's Velvet dairy company.
Sidney was a career Army officer who grew up in New Orleans and Pass Christian, the latter where his family owned 830 West Beach just down the street. That's why the newlyweds visited the Browns.
"I remember saying I wanted to have a house like that some day," she said.
In 1969 Sidney was in Vietnam, reading the Times-Picayune sent him when he noticed that his family's former West Beach home was for sale. He planned to buy it when he returned but his orders were changed and he arrived in California on the day of Hurricane Camille.
He hired an airplane and delivered supplies to Pass Christian. His dreams to retire in the Pass didn't die, even after Camille claimed 830 West Beach. A year later he learned 800 was for sale. It had first-floor damage but the second one was OK except for transients chopping stairs for firewood.
The Pughs renovated the house they'd visited on their honeymoon. Sidney died in 1996.
"The house was too big but I made up my mind I'd stay until I died," said Cherry Pugh, who now has a smaller house in the Pass.
Two weeks ago, the debris of 800 West Beach was cleared away and she hopes to sell the land to someone who wants to rebuild a house.
- KAT BERGERON