PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The LaPointe-Krebs House, also known as Old Spanish Fort, is undergoing an ambitious restoration. Constructed 259 years ago, the home is considered the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley.
"The house encompasses the beginning of our area of the nation. This house is older than the country. What we have here is the very beginning of people coming here and making the country what it was," said LaPointe-Krebs Foundation Director MC Wixon.
Overlooking the Pascagoula River, Old Spanish Fort was built by the De La Pointe family after they were granted land by the French. The name Old Spanish Fort comes from the late 1700s when Spain controlled the Mississippi Territory.
The LaPointe-Krebs House Museum and Foundation let Dr. Grant Harley, Professor of Geography and Geology at USM, conduct a study on the structure in an effort to determine exactly when the home was built.
Harley held out an old piece of wood.
"This wood does not exist anymore. This virgin long leaf pine is old growth. You can barely see the rings," said Harley.
With the help of a student, Harley used dendrochronology tree ring dating to determine the age of the structure. He picked some of the home's original timbers to measure and analyze the trees' ring width and came up with a precise calculation.
"I remember sitting with my student, Josh Bowman, and running it through the computer programs. It spit out statistics matching the patterns of the rings. We saw the outer most ring and dated it at 1757," Harley said.
Thanks to science, it's official. The house was built in 1757. The restoration project will continue for the next several years.
Meanwhile, the museum on the property will open on July 1. The museum has been closed since Hurricane Katrina swept three feet of water into the building. Exhibits reveal the rich history of this significant building in South Mississippi.