Grants Help Restore Historic Homes

It's hard to miss the bright yellow house on Beach Boulevard. After Katrina, the Swetman home was nearly demolished; until the owner visited with a team from the National Historic Trust.

"They sent an architect and an engineer. And they said, you can save the house. At that point we were just going to get a big bulldozer and pull it down," said Chevis Swetman.

His grandfather build the historic home in 1905. Katrina did all she could to crumble it.

"All of this area was totally gone. And all of everything was blown in over here. So, we're trying to rebuild back to what we had before," he said.

Swetman is using as much of the "old home" as possible.

"What we've tried to do is every piece of old wood we've tried to re-utilize back into the house."

A $150,000 grant will help defray the enormous cost of restoration.

"This is going to be the kitchen area right over here. We've got the front doors we're working on," said Swetman, during a tour of the work in progress, "We've had to rebuild a few of the windows, mainly on the front room over there that really got slammed hard by the storm."

The $21 million in historic preservation grants includes $1,700,000 for 29 historic homes in Biloxi. And of those 29 homes, four are located in the 500 block of Howard Avenue.

"Built about 1888. And I'm very proud of it," said Richard Blanchard, standing outside his historic wood frame house.

Blanchard received $75,000 dollars to help breathe new life into the Queen Anne Victorian.

It's more than a comfortable porch and ornate woodwork.

"My grandmother, Miss Breckenridge, rented it for 44 years. We were finally able to purchase it. I bought it and she lived here until she died," he recalled.

"So much of Biloxi has been lost. And it's even more important that we hold onto what little bit we have," said Blanchard.

It's not just private homes that are eligible for the Archives and History grants. Beauvoir received a $1 million award to help fund its ongoing restoration.