Six Spotorno generations lived, played and shared holidays at 608 South Beach Blvd., an 1840s house built on Bay St. Louis beach and later moved across the street. |
Some of the antebellum-era woodwork disappeared in storms, but the house itself stood strong through more than a dozen hurricanes.
An elder Spotorno lived there during Camille when a foot of water entered the house.
The house was not cleaned until 1972, when Anna Richardson with others of the nine Spotorno siblings "camped out" for three weeks with their mother, Eva, to decide if they'd like to live there. They scrubbed out dried mud and waited for electricity and water because no one had lived there since Camille.
The man of the house, Gerald Spotorno, wanted to move to the family home. His children weren't that happy about leaving Memphis but move they did.
"Look back, we're definitely happy that we moved. Even the married ones eventually moved to the Coast," said Anna.
"The family is what made the house so special."
Gerald Spotorno died four months before Katrina, and the family speculates he'd have stayed in the house because he - and the rest - thought the sturdy house more than 20 feet above sea level would be home for more generations.
Eva's spinet piano was found four blocks away. Chimneys were found on neighbors' land, and the kitchen floor was located on the corner of Washington and Hancock streets. Anna knows that because she recognized the tile she laid for her parents.
For now, 80-year-old Eva is staying with Anna because she lives in Bay St. Louis and Eva has no intention of leaving the Bay. She hopes to use grant money to build a cottage on the family land.
- KAT BERGERON