The Blue Rose, an 1848 home built in Pass Christian, opened in 1990 as a fine dining restaurant and enjoyed a run of popularity for diners as well as families celebrating special occasions.
The Blue Rose closed in 1998, partly because the Coast trend had moved to casual dining and partly because Philip LaGrange needed to care for an aging parent.
Then a year ago, LaGrange reopened the Blue Rose, this time with weekend dining and with a bed and breakfast. LaGrange thought he'd found his niche and loved being a part of historic Pass Christian's sense of place. Then came Hurricane Katrina.
"The upstairs is as we left it, with beds made and things on walls," LaGrange said. "It was weird, like we could have checked people in."
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But only on the second floor. Wind and surge gutted the first floor. The front porch collapsed and a huge tree fell on the side of the building.
"I'm doing everything I can to save her," said LaGrange, whose business partner is Herbert Pursley. "Like every one else, I'm dealing with insurance and SBA loans. I'm physically working seven days a week to save this building.
"There is a reason the Blue Rose survived. The easiest thing to do would be to walk away, but I keep looking at her and the incredible workmanship and I feel a moral responsibility to renovate. I brought in a professional company to stabilize the foundation, and if I have to board it up until I can restore, at least it will be stabilized."
- KAT BERGERON