Jacqueline and Arthur Williams enjoyed studying house designs, tweaking them for the day they built a house of their own. That came in 1993, a year after he began teaching sculpture at William Carey College on the Coast. |
They chose property on Brickyard Bayou in Gulfport because they like "seeing water." The house that took shape at 5008 Brandi Lane is 1,900 square feet, but the most interesting part for the college professor was his art studio, which occupied the ground level with a garage.
Williams, who received a doctorate at Carnegie-Mellon University, was later named chairman of Carey's art department. His wife became the special education music teacher at the Harrison County Child Development Center.
Their two boys were already grown when they built the house and the couple had made retirement plans elsewhere, but for their time in Gulfport, the house was perfect. He had his studio; she had views and a wood deck.
Before building they investigated the bayou height during Camille, which was 11 feet, and built the floor level at 15½ feet. Three times his ground-level studio flooded with storms but the house was fine. To protect his heavy sculpting equipment, he created a pulley system to raise it.
And that's what he did as Katrina approached. They stayed and watched as three feet of water filled the house and furniture floated. They put two folding chairs on the hearth and waited for water to recede.
"People asked if we were afraid and we weren't," Jacqueline said. "We would have been if we'd known what was going on around the corner. Several of those houses are gone."
The couple pushed up their retirement plans by a year (they're both 64), repaired their house, put up a for sale sign (and now have a prospective buyer) and bought a hillside house in Tennessee where they will soon move.
"What I will miss most is my students and my church," she said.
- KAT BERGERON