Restoration of the La Pointe – Krebs House began in 2016 with a focus on restoring the house to its original 1757 appearance while also repairing elements that haven’t had attention in decades or centuries – if ever. Now, as they cross the halfway point, they are looking to the next phase of the project. “The House has been restored a few times throughout its 262 years,” said Marks Sokolosky-Wixon, executive director of The La Pointe – Krebs Foundation, “but this one is without a doubt the most comprehensive restoration ever performed on the old home.”
The most recent restoration before the current one was in 1996 – which restored it to what was thought to be an 1820s appearance – and used some questionable techniques and materials that were exposed during Hurricane Katrina when the house took on 18 inches of water, according to Sokolosky-Wixon. “After Katrina, it felt like our chance to really get in there and do something.” The current restoration, which began in 2016 will take the house back to its original 1757 appearance and repair other elements that may have never been paid attention to. “This idea of this restoration is to conserve, restore, and retain all possible historical building elements,” he said.” The elements in themselves tell a deep and rich history of the House not only architecturally, but anthropologically as well.”
At this point, The La Pointe – Krebs Foundation is halfway through its current restoration. They have completed “structural stabilization” that included raising and leveling the western bousillage addition to the house, installing a parallel laminated veneer lumber wood system to the existing roof framing and structure – which allows for them to retain the original building elements while letting the new treated wood do the heavy lifting – and surrounding the House with an entirely new, custom-fit gallery. “Through this work, the House is in better architectural standing than it has been in well over a century,” Sokolosky-Wixon said. Next on the list is replacing the worn-out pine shingle roof and restoring the two chimneys, which will help with leaks. After that is completed, they will remove all the plaster, stucco, and latex paint on the House from 1996 and replace it with new plaster. They will use a lime wash instead of repainting the house, which was how it was until 1996, and will then reinstall the 1750s style windows and doors and 1800s wooden 18-inch-high flooring. The final piece will be to install a streamlined exhibit inside to help explain to the general public what they are looking at architecturally, according to Sokolosky-Wixon. “This restoration is not only important on a local level, this restoration is massively important on a national level as well,” he said. “The building has survived 262 years of hurricanes, wars, depressions, and floods, and we aim to have it stand for at least another 262.” He also said that the building is scientifically-confirmed as the oldest standing structure in the entire Mississippi River Valley, and once the restoration is complete, they will apply to become a National Landmark.
Other fun facts about LPK include that it is one of two French colonial structures, and the very last tabby (oyster shell concrete) structure, remaining on the entire Gulf Coast. Sokolosky-Wixon said that, ideally, the restoration would be finished in late 2020 or early 2021 but that depends on a number of factors, including funding. To this end, they are always working to raise money for the project.
This will also be the 10th anniversary of the Annual Fete La Pointe gala in conjunction with the Jackson County Historical & Genealogical Society on Aug. 17 at the Pascagoula Hilton Garden Inn. Tickets will be available in the coming months.
You can donate to the restoration project at PO Box 561, Pascagoula, MS 39568, or and find more information on their progress and events at their Facebook page. You can also visit their website.