Monday, January 31, 2011

Grass Lawn - Never Ending History

You know, if you really look at this picture and use your imagination, you can see some really neat things. Before there was Hwy 90 and beach running the length of the coast; when the salt water lapped on eroding grass and dirt, and livestock wandered through the fronts of homes scattered across Mississippi's original front yard; and from horse drawn carriages to Model T Fords and southern belles in wonderful Victorian gowns with their gentleman in top hats and canes. The history that runs through a home like the this one is endless.

Does it ever make you wonder how many times the same views that we look at now and find so beautiful were seen, untouched, by a man from the front porch holding whiskey and a cigar? What conversations were had, or life-changing decisions may have been made there? Some – perhaps many - might have even affected you. This is the energy you feel when visiting a home like Grass Lawn.

Grass Lawn, a Gulfport, Mississippi original, is located on East Beach overlooking the mesmerizing Gulf of Mexico. As old southern plantation type homes boast, Grass Lawn still has mighty oaks lining the way to the front door. It was originally built in 1836 as a summer home for a doctor out of Port Gibson, and was since totally destroyed by hurricane Katrina. After hard work and dedication, Gulfport had the home totally rebuilt: A symbol of going back to the way things were.

The house was constructed of hand-hewn pine and cypress timbers, and held together with wooden pegs. The 10 foot-wide galleries supported by two-story box columns were enclosed by wooden balustrades with balusters of triangular design—Grass Lawn's trademark.

The interior included three 20-by-20-foot rooms on each floor. The wide flooring was of edge grain heart pine. The mantels in the west rooms were of white marble and those in the east rooms, black marble. All were identically styled.

The original property included 235 acres of orchards and gardens. In 1905 after the property was subdivided, Grass Lawn was purchased by John Kennedy Milner who later became owner of the Coast Coca-Cola Bottling Company, one of the foremost firms of its kind in Mississippi.

Because of political, historical and architectural significance, Grass Lawn was placed on the national register of historic Places in 1972. It remained in the Milner Family until it was bought by the City of Gulfport in 1973.

Grass Lawn was the only structure in the United States of America that was granted that the National Park Service granted funding to make the rebuild possible.

There are not very many places you can come to gather, or even get married, and walk down the row of oaks to an absolutely perfect sand beach. So when you hear about the devastation left on that fateful day when hurricane Katrina made landfall on the coast, remember that once again people will have the chance to walk from that historic mansion to the Gulf of Mexico like so many have done in the past 175 years. Not all of the coast will be the same, but projects like this are what will bring that old fashioned style back to the coast. That really means something.

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