At the end of Gin Road in Pearlington, a 260-year-old Live oak tree is dedicated to Usan Vaughan, a freed slave who built a home in 1859 for his wife, Anna.|
Shaun and Yvonne Viguerie, who bought the home in 1959, designed and placed a plaque on the tree in honor of the legacy they inherited and to thank Vaughan for a place that gave their family so many wonderful memories.
When the Vigueries decided to add on to their house to accommodate a growing family, the first step was to relocate the home about 300 yards and turn it to face the Pearl River.
In the process, two chimneys were torn down and that's when the couple discovered a cypress mantle with the 1859 date inscribed on the back.
According to Yvonne Viguerie, she discovered the pre-Civil War house and its founder were full of history.
"Usan was a slave who worked for the Weston Lumber Mill in Pearlington and he became famous because he had invented a way to cart (cypress) logs out of the swamp," she said.
"He was well-respected and worked hard... I named the tree after him as a memorial for building the house and giving us such a great life there."
The renovation project continued by raising the house 8 feet on cement pilings, building a side addition with two more bedrooms, a new kitchen and restoring the original screened porch.
Mouth-blown glass windows, pine floors and cypress beams throughout the house were among the unique architectural features saved.
The Vigueries raised seven children in their home and all of them enjoyed the playground nature offered through daily rituals of fishing, swimming, hunting and gardening.
Shaun Viguerie passed away in 2002; Yvonne decided to sell the historic hideaway two years later.
Katrina took away the porch and the outside staircase, but the Live oak honoring Vaughan and his wife remains.
The home's current owners plan to begin restoring the home next year.
"I think it was the prettiest place on the earth... it's a museum piece," Viguerie said. "Pearlington has the capacity and ability to grow again. It just needs tender and loving care."
- DANA SLEGER