Beauvoir Finds Hope Amid The Rubble - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/14/05

Beauvoir Finds Hope Amid The Rubble

The mission to save pieces of the past is underway at the last home of Jefferson Davis. On Wednesday, the staff from Beauvoir and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History began the challenging task of sifting through rubble looking for historical artifacts. Even with all the destruction, Beauvoir officials say there is still reason to be hopeful.

Martha Clipinger spent 14 years leading tourists around the beautiful grounds of Beauvoir. Then Katrina brought the guided tours to a abrupt halt.

"At first it was devastating," she said. "Then the more I looked at the house the more that I saw that there is hope."

Searchers must painstakingly sift through every inch of the rubble to see if what managed to survive the storm.

Beauvoir board chairman Rick Forte said, "We're looking for the artifacts that were in the Confederate Museum which are primarily the uniforms, the swords, the firearms, insignia, there were several flags found in there. You can see we've found several swords and several muskets and they don't look too good now but when we get through restoring them they'll look really well."

The Hayes and Library cottages are gone but Forte says he was relieved to find Beauvoir house severely damaged but structurally sound.

"All I wanted to do when I turned the corner down Beauvoir Avenue was to see Beauvoir house still standing and it was and it made me feel a lot better," he said "It will be restored."

Many of the furnishings inside the house will also have to be restored.

"We are finding most of the items. My estimate at this point is about 90 percent," said Beauvoir board vice-chairman William Earl Faggert. "The furniture is in pretty bad condition from the salt water and the intrusion on the finish is breaking up some of the furnishings. Other pieces are okay."

Beauvoir officials say it will take about $34 million dollars to get this historical site back into shape. $10 to $15 million of that is for the presidential library alone. Although they're not sure is missing, they are encouraged by what still stands.

"That's amazing isn't it President Davis's statue is just like it always was standing there in the front," Forte said.

As for Martha Clipinger, she's optimistic.

"I will give tours again and I'll have a lot more to tell that I had in other days."

Beauvoir officials say replicas will be built of the Hayes and Library cottages that were destroyed in the storm.

To donate money, make checks payable to Beauvoir and indicate it's for the relief fund:

Ward Calhoun
P.O. Box 1786
Meridian, MS 39302

To donate building materials call Rick Forte at 601-268-3323

by Danielle Thomas

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