In the 1930s the beachfront house built by "Lawyer Green" of Jackson as a summer place started new life as a Presbyterian property. The 1903 raised cottage - "cottage" is a euphemism with its 6,000 square feet - became a popular site for weddings and other gatherings for First Presbyterian Church in downtown Gulfport. |
By all accounts, 924 East Beach Blvd. was a wonderful house filled with warm memories and rambling nooks and crannies. Two ministers, Dr. J.N. Brown and Dr. Richard Summers, lived there until it was sold and again became a private family abode.
The galleried house was raised seven feet off the ground, which left an intriguing space for child's play.
"I'd be working in the yard and a cute older couple would drive up and explain they'd been married in the house and ask could they come inside," said Dee Rainey, who with her husband, Gulfport attorney Bill Rainey, bought it 29 years ago.
"One time a couple came up and asked if they could go under the house, and I said, 'That's unusual. Everyone always wants to go inside.' They said their German shepherd was buried under there.
"Our son Tyler almost gave up his favorite playing place."
The Raineys fondly remember a previous owner, Frances Gordon, who had a Ford Falcon that scooted expertly into its parking space under the house. She weathered Camille there with 18 others.
"That's one of the reasons we bought it," said Rainey. "Not only was it a special, huggable house, it had survived Camille."
Cars got bigger and under the Rainey tutelage, a proper garage appeared.
Katrina took it all, including much of the Rainey's belongings. They found the clawfoot tub on their property and covered it against the weather only to have it stolen by looters.
They gathered battered furniture, loaded the bits and pieces into a truck and carted them to specialists in Jackson. That part has a better ending since restoration is under way, but nothing remains of the structure.
"It's the kind of house you'd never build again because it's not economical," said Rainey.
"It was just so big and open and airy and the view was wonderful. It had a lot of wasted space like old houses tend to have, but we loved that."