Annette Anderson gave Peter, Walter and Mac a potter's wheel when she worried her young sons weren't adept with their hands.
Because of that, the three spent a lifetime of artistic pursuits on a family compound this daughter of a New Orleans judge and wife of a grain merchant bought as an escape in Ocean Springs.
The family permanently moved in 1922 to Shearwater, the 24-acre compound, and new generations continue to live there.
Peter, at age 27, opened Shearwater Pottery, named after the local black and white skimmers.
James, the youngest called Mac, created the still popular "widgets" or whimsical characters popular at Shearwater. And Walter became the best-known nationally for his paintings and art journals.
Shearwater for the three brothers and their families was a refuge as well as a place of artistic creation and business.
Katrina destroyed or badly damaged 15 of the 17 houses and buildings, including the quaint all-wood showroom and the building called the barn. One that can be repaired is the historic Walter Anderson Cottage, which was put back on its piers in a pilot stabilization program by the Mississippi Heritage Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Rebuilding monies for much of the rest is questionable because the Anderson family ran a for-profit business, explains family member and business manager Marjorie Ashley.
"We've applied for historic preservation grants but have not been given any reason to think we will get help that way," said Ashley, "but we're grateful for the small donations and grants that we do get.
"The future? We see getting back out to Shearwater where we belong as fast as possible."
For now, Shearwater is renting three rooms in the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center, using one as a showroom. Potter Jim Anderson, son of Peter, has a wheel set up in one of them.
"Playing with clay is something you did growing up in this family," said Anderson, who also lost his home in the storm. "We might have made animals or clay balls for a slingshot or threw something on the wheel, usually unsuccessfully."
- KAT BERGERON