Mississippi Coast On Endangered Historic Places List

Katrina couldn't topple the historic Biloxi lighthouse. One of the most enduring, familiar coast landmarks sustained interior damage, but its cast iron tower stands strong.

Another coast landmark also survived Katrina.

"It was the oldest house in Biloxi before the storm and it's still the oldest house in Biloxi after the storm," said Bobby Mahoney, standing outside Mary Mahoney's Old French House restaurant.

The famous restaurant has weathered more than a few hurricanes over three centuries. Katrina knocked it down, but certainly not out.

"You can hold onto history as long as you can and then some natural disasters try and take it away from you. But fortunately enough, we were able to keep Mother Nature away from the Old French House," said Mahoney, wearing his telltale grin.

Across from the Old French House, the Magnolia Hotel awaits renewal. It took six feet of water during the hurricane. The city will soon hire an architect to create plans for restoring the downtown landmark.

"It's about our history, it's where we came from," said city planner Bill Raymond, who helps oversee historic properties in the city.

We caught up with Raymond in the historic Biloxi Cemetery, where he's been working with contractors to help restore and repair.

"The area was pretty devastated. Tombs had collapsed. Head stones were everywhere. It's like putting a jigsaw puzzle back together, trying to figure out what belongs where. And the crews working on this are doing a great job," said Raymond.

It will take a similar effort to repair the storm-shattered Old Brick House. An architect is doing a structural study to make certain the landmark on Back Bay can be rebuilt.

Raymond says such projects are crucial to coast recovery.

"A lot of the signs of our history are gone. And these historic structures were the signs of our history. So, we need to hold onto what we have so we can remember our past and tell that story to visitors and to future generations that will live here," he said.

Another Biloxi landmark is already undergoing a significant post-Katrina restoration. Workers are busy restoring and repairing Beauvoir, the historic Jefferson Davis home.