BILOXI, Miss. – Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, is under attack again.
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina caused millions of dollars in damage to the home of the president of the Confederacy — and seven years after the National Historic Landmark on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was restored — termites, water damage and rot are eating into some of the exterior boards of the home in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The Sun Herald reports that crews will begin working to repair or replace the steps, the porch decking and the rim joists under the porch, where the damage is most evident.
Leroy Waller, an assistant to the executive director at Beauvoir, said work should be done by Christmas.
The house remains open for tours, although guests must enter by the back door.
"The house is solid," Waller said. "There's no danger."
He blames the damage mostly on the home's waterfront location.
Ken P'pool, deputy state historic preservation officer of the state Department of Archives and History, said the problems began two years ago. At that time, the former management at Beauvoir noticed the decking on the front porch was deteriorating. Apparently there was Formosan termite damage there, he said.
Instead of applying for the required permits from MDAH for the repairs in late 2013, the Beauvoir management covered the porch with new decking, discarding original hardware and lopping off the bottoms of the original shutters in the process, he said.
"They spent a good deal of money and it did not solve the problem," P'pool said. "It just covered it up."
Rainwater ponded and damaged the structural members of the porch and the columns, he said.
The priorities and cost are being reviewed and he said the MDAH board will meet Tuesday and could approve the repairs then. The house is not in danger, he said, "but the porch is in very poor shape."
The galleries, or front porches, Katrina tore away were rebuilt in 2007 during the $3.9 million restoration, as were the supports, columns and roof framing.
FEMA and MEMA historic-preservation money was used in the restoration of Beauvoir and the home reopened June 3, 2008, the 200th anniversary of Davis' birthday.