GAUTIER, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Today, we are visiting a special house on the Coast. It is special is several ways. For one, it's an antebellum home. There aren't that many antebellum houses in that part of the state, especially after the hurricanes along the water. And also, the house is special because of who once lived there.
The cracked historic marker out in front of "Oldfields" in Gautier is a reflection of the condition of the house, still in disrepair from Hurricane Katrina. It was built in 1845, occupied by Union troops during the Civil War and bought by the Grinstead family in 1905.
One of the more notable occupants was a Grinstead son-in-law, Walter Anderson. Anderson's daughter, Mary Anderson Pickard remembers those years fondly.
"I lived at Oldfields from the time I was three until I was eleven," said Mary. "It was wonderful. It was in a world apart. It sits on the high bluff overlooking the sound and you can see Horn Island on the horizon. And I lived there for the part of my life that was very important in connecting to the land. It was the scene of a great deal of my father's work. At that time we could sit down beside him while he was drawing and watch. And he'd be drawing chickens and a chicken would go running across the page and it was like magic."
But Mary is concerned about the state of the house itself.
"It's always been in a rather tenuous spot. My mother and my aunt had to have the house moved back from the edge of the bluff after the 1947 hurricane," said Mary. "But hurricane Katrina came and was beyond anything we had seen before. But the house was still standing. But it's in worse shape now than it was right after the storm. So I would love it if somebody would look and say, this is one of the very few antebellum houses we have left along the Coast. And it seems to me that people would want to value it enough to restore it."
Many houses were wiped out instantly when Katrina hit. Others have suffered a slow decline. Maybe historic Oldfields on the sound in Gautier will yet be rescued.
Oldfields is up for sale and there are some special category dollar-for-dollar tax credits still available for restoration.