It's official. Beauvoir will rise again. On Thursday, the board president sealed a deal that will put more than $3 million into making one of the coast's oldest landmarks as good as new.
Katrina left Beauvoir badly battered, and board president Richard Forte in tears.
"Like everyone else, I was pretty depressed," said Forte. "I did a lot of crying with a lot of other people and I looked forward to this day of getting this restored."
Jerry Lathan's company is in charge of the restoration of the last home of Jefferson Davis. He says his crews will do their best to imitate the intricate craftsmanship of past generations.
"Because it's a historic structure, it's important," said Lathan. "You know you're going to be able to go back to it for years and generations. Your children and your grandchildren will be able to point to things you were a part of and you helped to build or restore. You get to add your name to the history."
Beauvoir is the latest of many historical restorations taken on by Mobile based Lathan Company. The old Hattiesburg High School and the courthouse in Escambia County, Florida are among the others. Jerry Lathan says there is something special about touching history.
"I hope the restoration of Beauvoir is going to be a symbol of the restoration that is going to happen all along the coast," he said. "That we can hang in there and we can take a hard hit and still come back strong."
Richard Forte said "It's surprising how many people born and raised here have never been here, but they ride by it all the time and they ask me the same question everybody else is wondering, 'Are you going to restore it?" It's a historic site, not just for Mississippians and the Gulf Coast, but for the United States of America. It's a national historic landmark and there's not very many national historic landmarks.
Beauvoir should be back to its original splendor in about a year. Contractor Jerry Lathan says crews will use plan to use all the original materials they can to restore the house.
Beauvoir officials say the money for the project will come from private donations, grants, and FEMA.