PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - The LaPointe Krebs House is one month away from honoring the 307th birthday of its builder, Hugo Krebs. With that celebration comes the announcement of a new executive director. Matthew Powell, raised in Olive Branch, Mississippi, is now spearheading the restoration of the house damaged in Katrina. With an additional $1,000,000 grant signed as a funding bill by former Governor Phil Bryant, Powell said the house will now join the ranks of other state historical sites.
“I want to make this place one of the most visited areas in the state of Mississippi,” Powell said. “Most folks come here and they want to go to Tupelo and see Elvis’ house or they go to Natchez because of the history there or Vicksburg of the battle. Nobody comes down here, but this is the oldest home in the state. So the potential there, and once the restoration is complete, is so high.”
Despite his upbringing in Mississippi, he was not even aware of the house. That is a harsh reality that Powell said is prevalent with many Mississippians north of the six coastal counties.
“I’m a trained historian from The University of Mississippi, and even though I grew up in Olive Branch, Mississippi, I had no idea this place existed,” Powell said. “It’s the oldest in state and a real treasure on the Gulf Coast and the ceiling for its potential is so high.”
Before that potential can be met, Powell said, the restoration must be completed.
“The restoration of the home is due to a lot of damage from Hurricane Katrina,” Powell said. “When Katrina was over, and damage was assessed, the home seemed not to be that bad off. After further inspection, it was found that water went under the house and into the walls and there was extensive damage. The LaPointe-Krebs Foundation was started by the Mississippi Legislature and given oversight of this house. Restoration started in about 2016. Funds dried up and restoration slowed. Then the Mississippi Legislature pumped another million dollars into the house because they recognized the historical importance of the house. It’s the most extensive restoration in the home’s history.”
With the work of restoration expected to wrap in early summer, Powell is moving forward with Krebs’ birthday celebration.
“We wanted to do the rededication of the home and Hugo Krebs’ birthday as a compound event,” Powell said. “On May 15, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., we will have a family-run event where stations will be set up where people can learn facts about the house. At 4 p.m. we will rededicate the house. We have confirmed the Canadian Consul General, the honorary Consul General for Germany, and we are awaiting confirmation from France for attendance to the rededication. That will represent all of the different countries who have ties to this house. LaPointe was French-Canadian, sent here by the French crown and Krebs was German.”