Historic home in Ocean Springs undergoes ambitious restoration

Published: Sep. 18, 2013 at 4:35 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2013 at 9:54 AM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - One of America's great architects from the late 19th century and early 20th century left his mark in Ocean Springs.

The Charnley house on East Beach in Ocean Springs was designed and built by famed architect Louis Sullivan from Chicago. He was known as the father of the skyscraper. He built this unique house overlooking the Gulf in 1890.

"This house is an architectural wonder. It shows the transition from traditional architecture to modernism," said Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran.

Sullivan moved to Ocean Springs, built this house on the beach and redefined the architectural norm of the time.

Kenneth P'Pool with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History picks up the story.

"These rooms flow from one into the other. Glass was also used so the interior and exterior come together. These are things that revolutionized American Architecture," said P'Pool.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina tore the Charnley House apart. An ambitious restoration began in 2008. Many of the original materials were salvaged. Project organizers combined the old and the new to maintain historical authenticity.

"You can see the new wood is lighter than the original wood, the curly pine that has aged over the years. You see the story of the house and the restoration," according to Lolly Barnes with the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

The state worked with Ocean Springs, The National Park Service and the Mississippi State University College of Art and Design to preserve the Charnley House, one of the most important structures in South Mississippi.

"Next to Beauvoir, this is the most significant architectural structure on the Gulf Coast" said Mayor Moran.

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