Two Bay St. Louis Homes Restored By Historical Group

Kara Dotter kneeled next to a brick frame, chipped off pieces of those bricks, and placed them in a bag.

"I'm collecting mortar samples," she said.

Those samples are a lot like chapters in a history book. They tell the story of 222 N. Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis.

While Dotter crawled under the house looking for clues to write chapter one, Dorothy Phillips wrote its ending.

"I see a house that's meant a great deal to me, a great deal," the 75 year old Bay St. Louis woman said.

Phillips spent the last 51 years living on the Bay St. Louis waterfront. The story of her house changed when a historic storm named Katrina crumbled her porch, and nearly forced her to swim to safety.

When her brother saw water filling the house, and brought up the swim, Phillips' gasped.

"I couldn't even get a sound out of my mouth," she said.

It turns out the history of the Phillips house, and the cottage right next door date back to at least the 1840s. And that piqued Marty Hylton's curiosity.

"I see the history of the gulf coast in these two buildings," the World Monuments Fund member said.

And history is what that group tries to preserve. So Hylton's group is in Bay St. Louis, taking apart small pieces of Hancock County history. The volunteers will reassemble whatever they can salvage, so future generations can see what old town Bay St. Louis once looked like.

"We can't work on every building on the gulf coast," Hylton said. "But we hope that we can learn a lot by the few that we do work on."

Mrs. Phillips has one of those houses.

"They asked me do you have any time frame as to when you would like to get back in it. I said well I tell you what, I'm 75 years old, so I guess it better be the sooner the better," she laughed.

The World Monuments Fund is getting plenty of help in its quest to save the historic homes. The Preservation Trades Network, and some graduate students from the University of Florida have donated their time to the restoration project.