One of the delights of driving Gulfport's East Beach Boulevard in the 1980s was watching the restoration and then the additions to the large, architecturally intriguing house at the corner of Gulf Avenue. |
Its history rivaled its appearance. Built in 1905 by a lumberman named Osborne, the intricate woodwork reflected the times and his own love of wood. The floors were oak with an intricate cherry pattern, and the stairwell hand-carved. It even had a primitive central heating system.
Dr. Jason V. Smith, an ear, nose and throat surgeon, bought it in 1979 and continued the restoration started by the late hair stylist Jerry Ellis, who'd rescued the house from Hurricane Camille damage. Before that, its best-known occupant was Clayton Rand, a nationally recognized journalist.
Under Smith's watchful eye two additions were made, both designed by the late New Orleans historical architect George Leake and built by Clayton Lehman. It was the kind of house that caused second glances and photographs. Katrina leveled the three-story home where Smith and wife Barbara Duncan lived and raised three girls. For the next chapter in their lives, they will rebuild in Bayou View.
"The home was my hobby for 26 years. It was a joy to have lived there," said Smith.
"As is the case with so many beachfront residences which graced our Coast, the loss is irreplaceable."
- KAT BERGERON