Walter Anderson Cottage
Address: 102 Shearwater Dr. Built in 1850 Registered in Shearwater National Register Historic District in Ocean Springs
Walter Inglis Anderson, the American artist, painter, writer and naturalist, known as “Bob,” was consumed with nature’s integration into the life of man. Frequent solitary trips to Horn Island during his life brought extended exposure to the elements that included Walter’s legendary act of tying himself to a tree while the island was battered by a hurricane. This preoccupation with beauty and nature was widely misunderstood but beautifully captured in his hundreds of creations that included paintings, sketches, manuscripts and carvings.
“He endured extreme weather conditions, from blistering summers to hurricane winds and freezing winters. He painted and drew a multitude of species of island vegetation, animals, birds, and insects, penetrating the wild thickets on hands and knees and lying in lagoons in his search to record his beloved island paradise. Anderson’s obsession to “realize” his subjects through his art, to be one with the natural world instead of an intruder, created works that are intense and evocative.” –Walter Anderson Museum
In addition to his prolific private works, Anderson completed expansive murals in the Old Ocean Springs High School (now the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center) and the Community Center. Murals provided an opportunity to surround our living spaces with colorful reminders of nature. Inside the cottage, he painted a mural on the walls and ceilings of a bedroom called “Creation at Sunrise,” (later moved to the Walter Anderson Museum). Murals of bright green pastures with curious cows reminiscent of his trips to Texas overlook the tub in the cottage’s single modest bath. Source
Structure of the Cottage
This one story frame Greek Revival cottage was the home and workshop of Mississippi artist Walter Anderson from 1933 to 1940 and 1947 to 1965. Floors and ceilings are tongue-in-groove planks. Anderson’s modifications include built-in furniture and shelving of his own design. Source
Damage by Katrina
With the surge of floodwater, the cottage floated, shifting approximately 6 feet from its foundation, damaging several piers and depositing the house onto the ground. The porch was entirely ripped away and the fireplace, with its glazed brick hummingbird pattern, was left a pile of rubble. Immediately after the storm, the Mississippi Heritage Trust, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, World Monuments Fund and Johnson and Johnson, worked to stabilize the cottage, raising the house back to its previous level and repairing the foundation piers. Neighbors and friends offered similar salvaged bricks from nearby destroyed homes to help reconstruct the fireplace. The cottage was later fully restored with funding from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Hurricane Relief Grant Program.
Beyond the cottage, however, was the unrecoverable damage to the priceless collection of Anderson’s work. A small cinderblock building that had been constructed to protect his art was penetrated by the storm surge, resulting in extensive damage to the watercolors, drawings, manuscripts and other artifacts. The Community Center mural also required extensive restoration after the storm. As a result of the restoration, which was completed in 2013, over a foot of the mural that had been previously hidden was revealed to a delighted public. Source
History of the Cottage
1850: Cottage built, believed to have been slave quarters for the Tiffen estate
1933-1940: Walter and Agnes Grinstead marry and remodel the cottage as their home
1947-1965: Walter lives in the cottage alone until his death at 62 from complications due to lung cancer
1965: “Drifts” of Walter’s art are discovered in the cottage.
1990: The small bedroom containing Anderson’s mural is donated to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and replaced by one of the same specifications.
2005: Hurricane Katrina severely damages the cottage and destroys two other major structures in the Shearwater estate, the primary residence and carriage house (both c.1830’s)
2012: Restoration of the cottage is completed. Source