Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Photograph of Fairchild Beach Cottage - Waveland, Mississippi

"Victorian Cottage, Waveland" circa 1936
During the past few weeks, I wrote a series of posts about Carlotta Nelson Fairchild and her family that included her only child, Christine Nelson Fairchild.  Recently, I located a photo in the online digital collection of the Library of Congress, identifed as "Victorian Cottage, Waveland (MS)" that is believed to be the Fairchild beach cottage once known as "The Myrtles."  The image was taken by Walker Evans, a well-known photographer who worked in the 1930's for an agency of the Farm Security Administration.  According to newspaper archives and his biographies, Walker Evans knew Christine Fairchild and later married Christine's friend, Jane Smith Ninas, formerly married to New Orleans artist, Paul Ninas. It was likely that Evans took the photograph of the Fairchild beach cottage when he accompanied Christine and Jane and Paul Ninas on a visit to Waveland, Mississippi.     

Source:  Photo Collection: Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Reproduction Number LC-DIG-fsa-8c52054.  Photographed by Walker Evans, 1903-1975.


  1. So many interesting things in such a short post. The photo is incredible, though it looks far too large to be called a cottage. And that it was taken by the legendary Walker Evans. Do you know why the beach house was known as "The Myrtles?"

    1. Blog Author's Note: The beach house owned by the Fairchild family was probably named the "Myrtles" because of the wax myrtles and crepe myrtles that grow so well in that area. Regarding your comment about the size of the cottage, well-to-do families from New Orleans and other places nearby, including Mississippi, "summered" on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in what was referred to as "cottages." More often than not, the cottages were fairly large, airy Victorian-style houses, with porches, gardens, and extra bedrooms for guests. Since summer was a social season all its own, those three months included rounds of house parties, teas, and weddings. Unfortunately, Hurricane Camille came onshore at Waveland, MS, on August 17, 1969, destroying much of what was there, and rebuilding efforts took almost a decade. Thirty-six years later, on August 29, 2005, Waveland became "ground zero" for Hurricane Katrina and the city received massive damage from the storm. According to some accounts, over half of its 8,000 residents left and never returned. According to the City of Waveland's website, the city "continues to rebuild from the effects of Hurricane Katrina."