Marlene and Dr. Philip Saccoccia Jr. found the perfect cottage on the Pass Christian beach when they moved from Montana in 1979.|
The bolted construction and design led the Saccoccias to believe the cottage was a Sears catalog kit, which provided affordable, sturdy homes whose parts were delivered by rail. They bought 991 East Beach Blvd. from the Capehart family, who'd built the cottage in the 1940s.
"When we moved to the Pass, we fell in love with the neighborhood and the town," said the surgical pathologist.
The 750-square foot cottage seemed small after the first child, so they hired architect Fred Wagner to expand it. Later, a second cottage on the wooded, two-acre property was also enlarged for her father.
Their two kids went off to college and the Saccoccias nurtured thoughts of downsizing and eventually returning to Montana, where they continued to fish and see friends. In 2001 they found the perfect second home, modest but in the gorgeous Gallatin Valley surrounded by five mountain ranges.
Shortly before Katrina, they put their beach property on the market, but hadn't planned to immediately head to Montana.
Katrina accelerated their plans. The storm knocked their twice-enlarged house off its foundation and collapsed it against trees.
The cottage in the back had little damage, but it took two months to reinstall utilities. As soon as they moved in someone with local ties gave them a "fair offer." They sold it, but watch closely with what the doctor calls "abiding faith" that the Pass will come back: "It is what other places want to be: liveable, small communities with strong neighborhood character."
- KAT BERGERON