Home & Garden

Beloved family home in Gautier part of Pilgrimage

TAMMY SMITH/SUN HERALDFamily members have contributed many of the furnishings in the Anderson home, as in this bedroom called 'the blue room.'
TAMMY SMITH/SUN HERALDFamily members have contributed many of the furnishings in the Anderson home, as in this bedroom called 'the blue room.'

The house sits at the foot of Wind Drift Lane in Gautier, overlooking the West River where it forks from the Pascagoula and flows into the Mississippi Sound. It's been here for well more than a century, watching storms, owners and decades pass.

The Anderson family home, also known as the Labrot House, is one of several Mississippi Gulf Coast homes, buildings and sites to be featured in the 64th Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Spring Pilgrimage. This house, presented by the Gautier Garden Club, will be on tour from 1 to 4 p.m. April 17. The Pilgrimage runs from April 12 to 17 and spans much of the Coast, from Pass Christian to Moss Point and Pascagoula. There is no charge for the tours, which are presented by various garden clubs. Booklets which include addresses and background on the sites are available at visitor's centers on Interstate 10 in Bay St. Louis and U.S. 90 in Biloxi; at chambers of commerce, the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs and the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi and through local garden clubs.

A century in the making

The Anderson family home has been in its current location since 1899, but evidence shows it was built much earlier, family members said.

"It was on the tax rolls in the 1870s," said Sonya Smith, one of the family members who currently own the house. The house was built on the west bank of the Pascagoula River.

"We believe it was built on the old creosote site," said Rusty Anderson, referring to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad's Creosote Plant in Gautier.

Family members said the railroad built the house, and its construction style, using vertical weatherboards with battens, reflects that used by the L&N Railroad for buildings of that era.

In 1899, the house was moved via barge to its longtime site, and Smith said the tax rolls show the house on the property in 1899.

It came into the possession of the Anderson family through a relative.

"Irene and Donald Arguelles bought it in 1955 from the Lovells," Smith recalled.

Keep it in the family

"Our aunt lived to 98 years old, and she left it to her only surviving brother, Shelby Anderson, when she passed away in 2002," Anderson said. "When he passed in 2008, he left it to his five children -- us." That includes Smith, Rusty Anderson, Jean Smith, Billy Anderson and Elaine Pierce.

Donald Arguelles printed the Gautier Gazette there, Rusty Anderson said, in an outbuilding behind the house.

The house, which has 12-foot ceilings, is much the same as it has been through the years. The exceptions include an updated and expanded kitchen and updated bathrooms. The living room once featured wallpaper, but the siblings faced the challenge of removing not only the old paper, but heavily tacked cheesecloth on which the paper was glued many years ago. Grasscloth now covers the walls, and the siblings plan to replace it with paint.

Cooking up something new

The previous kitchen was a narrow galley style. An adjoining room was included in the update to add more space, including for a counter.

Look through the windows of the bedrooms, and you will notice that several panes are original to the house, their wavy glass a tell-tale sign. Heart-pine floors also are original.

Today, the Anderson family lovingly maintains the home.

"It's a family gathering place," Rusty Anderson said. "We have special family events here, a few family weddings."

"And there are plenty of Thanksgiving dinners, and we have Christmas here," Jean Smith said.

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