St. Martin Man Preserves Historic Home

Steven Rodriguez is busy restoring his home and preserving a part of St. Martin history.

Hurricane Katrina floated the wood frame house off its foundation. And while the SBA and others declared it a total loss, Rodriguez had other ideas.

"I'm the fourth generation of Rodriguez to own it. And the fifth generation is alive. We've had it since 1882. I feel not only do I owe it to St. Martin and the heritage of the area, but to my grandmother," said Steven Rodriguez.

His "shotgun house" once sat in the center of St. Martin.

House movers lower the structure with meticulous precision. Katrina wasn't nearly as careful.

"Had twisted and it was pinned between the pecan trees. And that cable undoubtedly held it, had moored it by the corner. It had about 12 feet of water in it," the home owner explained.

"Well, this one was the living room. Doesn't look like much now. And the house you can tell had hardwood floors all through it," said Rodriguez, while giving a tour of the home.

Old fashioned wood throughout probably helped save the home.

"There's no mildew. No mold or anything. You can rub your hand through there and get dust. So you can tell the boards were so tight, it just floated," he said.

It's floating again, this time under a carefully controlled cushion of air. As the home inches closer to the foundation, Rodriguez grows more comfortable with the decision to save it.

"When all the block homes and brick homes around here got destroyed and this one survived, it just blew me away," he said, shaking his head.

"I would hope it would make a few people at least decide to stay here," said Rodriguez.

He's taken out a loan to save the family homestead and named the house "Ida" after his grandmother, Ida Fountain Rodriguez.

"We're going to save it. One way or another, if it kills me. And it might."

Rodriguez joked while he can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, he's now convinced at least there's a tunnel.

The house is located off Lemoyne Boulevard and was built in 1882. One bit of history with the home involves Rodriguez's grandfather. He was the first Highway Patrolman in Mississippi and wore the badge "Mississippi 1."