Humanities Chairman Tours Destroyed Cultural Sites

"Nice to meet you sir. Welcome to Beauvoir," said Beauvoir's director, as he greeted some very important guests.

For the first time, Dr. Bruce Cole saw for himself the ruins of Beauvoir, after Katrina hammered the Biloxi landmark.

"Just the sheer scale of devastation that I see, is discouraging," said Cole.

Cole chairs the National Endowment for the Humanities, an agency that has set aside $1.25 million for four states to recover priceless historical and cultural items right after the storm.

"Ya'll were like the cavalry coming over the hill," said Hotard.

Beauvoir received $30,000 to preserve precious artifacts from the house, museum, and Presidential Library.

"It helped us buy supplies. It also paid for salaries for some part time individuals to go out, help us recover the artifacts on the grounds, clean them, process them," said Hotard. "It was really a God send. It really helped us out immensely."

"It's been one of the most gratifying parts of my four years in Washington, to be able to make the agency funds available to show how the federal government can respond to an enormous disaster like this," said Cole.

The Hancock County Library System also received a grant to restore some sculptures. As Cole peered inside the shattered Waveland Public Library, it emphasized the important role his agency plays in saving the South Mississippi story.

"There is no more important part of our history than this area and its rich collection of buildings, and artworks, and archives," Cole said. "We see this as doing our part. Helping to rescue these great cultural treasures."

Other local institutions that received Humanities funding include the Biloxi Public Library, the Seafood Industry Museum, the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum, the Mississippi Sound Historical Museum, and USM. The agency is currently taking applications for the next round of grants.