Blue Rose Owners Restoring Historic Home

One of the coast's historic treasures is undergoing a major renovation. Hurricane Katrina blew out several walls and lifted the roof off the Blue Rose in Pass Christian. The owners thought about bulldozing the storm-damaged house, but decided to save it instead.

The historic society calls it the oldest beach front home in the Pass and among the oldest on the coast. But the 1848 home nearly crumbled in Katrina.

"Like most houses, you start from the bottom up. This one we had to lift the top back up, and then put all the walls back in. All the walls blew out," said Herb Pursley, while giving a tour of his home now under repair.

Pursley admits his first inclination was to call in the bulldozer.

"And then my partner, Phil Lagrange, he came over about a week later. He saw it and said, 'It's standing. We're going to save it.  It's too old to let it go. We've lost too many historic homes already.'"

The effort to save this one is both time consuming and costly.

"We were so thankful we were able to get a company out of Michigan," said the owner.

Layers of old wood are a testament to a bygone era of building techniques. The newly restored Blue Rose will be even more sturdy.

"I don't think it's going anywhere now," said the owner, pointing to thick slabs of wood and concrete on the porch.

The home has been a private residence, restaurant and bed and breakfast. Pursley says the B&B will return first.

"The restaurant part will come in second after that. And the reason we're going to hold off on that is because of the Bay St. Louis bridge," he explained.

Another fascinating story about this old house is how it got the name Blue Rose. Folklore says the original owner, a sea captain named Fitzpatrick, was haunted by the ghost of a young girl; someone he affectionately called his Little Blue Rose.

The newly renovated Blue Rose should be ready by mid July, looking very much like the original.

"We've sold every asset we have. We've gone into all our retirement funds. We used every nickel we could get our hands on to put it back together," Pursley says.

Herb Pursley says one aspect of the renovation is getting lots of local attention. The Blue Rose won't be painted blue any longer. It's going to be cream-colored, which Pursley says more closely fits the original 1848 home.