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Katrina sweeps away Gulf Coast history

In a country littered with nondescript urban sprawl, the picturesque 19th century houses that dotted the United States' southern shores were rare reminders of a bygone era. But now, many of Mississippi's grand beachfront homes, sturdy verandas and steepled churches have simply vanished -- generations of memories obliterated in a single, 12-hour storm.

Almost all our old houses have gone. This isn't just a question of financial loss, this is our history that has disappeared," said Helen Sirmon, an elementary school teacher who took her classes on tours of Biloxi's historic buildings.

"We will try to keep our past alive by talking about it, but it isn't the same as being able to see it. This is going to impoverish our children," she said.

The Green Oaks, billed as the oldest remaining beachfront residence in Mississippi, is just a pile of rubble. Beauvoir, the final home of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, is demolished.

The Davis home, built in 1854, was consumed by the storm surge. The Old Brick House, a historical museum, is gutted. Tullis-Toledano Manor, built in 1856 and lovingly restored after the killer 1969 Hurricane Camille, is a splintered jumble.

Read entire article at AlterNet