Volunteers Prep for Racquets for Ronald

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Thanks to the Chevron volunteers who recently helped prepare for Racquets for Ronald, a tennis tournament fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House.

The event is held annually at Treasure Oak Country Club in Ocean Springs, and proceeds directly benefit the Share-A-Night Fund, which helps to cover expenses for Ronald McDonald House. The House offers 38 guest rooms, which are available cost-free for families with hospitalized children and helps support families seeking respite at two Ronald McDonald Family Rooms located inside USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile.

Louis Henry, Refinery Strategy and Business Planning Manager, serves on the board of directors for the Ronald McDonald House.

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Greenhouse offers biscuits, beer and brew

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Just a few blocks away from Front Beach is a quiet little coffee house called The Greenhouse on Porter.

“We operate out of an old greenhouse we turned into a coffee shop,” said Kait Sukiennik, co-owner with Jessie Zenor. “We hold different events like a trivia night, when we donate the proceeds to a different charity every time. We have a poetry night, yard sales, we offer local music, and a lawn outside for kids. We’re not just a coffee shop but a place you can hang out with family and friends while you enjoy a beer or coffee.”

Another unique feature of the Greenhouse on Porter is their biscuit tournament. 

“This will be the third year we’re doing it,” Sukiennik said. “We call for submissions for biscuit recipes, then around September we narrow them down and let our customers try them and vote on which biscuits advance to the next round in the tournament. It usually lasts through December.”

The Greenhouse on Porter is a true gem of Jackson County, allowing people from all over to come together in one place.

“People come together from all walks of life, providing a place that allows us to get to know each other better.”

For more information about The Greenhouse on Porter, visit their website or like their Facebook page.

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Charnley-Norwood House holds national significance

A little piece of history is nestled along the beach in Ocean Springs in the form of the Charnley-Norwood House

“This house, a Louis Sullivan/Frank Lloyd Wright original design, is of national significance,” said Jeff Rosenberg, Preservation Coordinator at the Office of Restoration & Resiliency in the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. “What makes the Charnley-Norwood House significant architecturally is its place at the forefront of modern architecture. It exhibits a degree of functionality and austerity not witnessed before in residential architecture of the 1890s. 

“The design of the Charnley-Norwood House embodies the nexus of ideas that powerfully reshaped not only American, but international residential architecture in the 20th century. It is quite possibly one of the first modernist houses ever.”

The Charnley-Norwood House can be traced back to the late 19th century, when architect Louis Sullivan took a liking to Ocean Springs during a 1890 vacation. Sullivan decided to invest in a parcel of waterfront property and designed two neighboring retreats, one for himself and one for his friends James and Helen Charnley.

“Although best known for his high-rise urban buildings in Chicago, Sullivan designed these rural vacation retreats with a long, low orientation that blended into the natural surroundings of the coastal plain and was apparently assisted in that design by his young draftsman Frank Lloyd Wright,” Rosenberg said. “The Charnleys would sell their vacation house in 1896 to Frederick and Elizabeth Norwood, also of Chicago.  The long leaf pine industry had brought the Norwoods to Mississippi.”

Only in the next year would a fire destroy the house, but rebuilding began almost immediately, with the Norwoods following the original design of the house. The property once again sustained heavy damage during Hurricane Katrina, a storm that destroyed the Sullivan house. 

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) conducted emergency stabilization efforts,” Rosenberg said. “Despite the damage caused by Katrina, the structure was amazingly intact.  John G. Waite Associates Architects of Albany, New York prepared a Historic Structure Report. This report, combined with the detailed Analysis of the Historic Finishes conducted by architectural conservator, George Fore, produced a detailed description of the original design and construction of the Charnley-Norwood House.

“After the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources acquired the property in 2011, a multiyear award winning restoration of the house was overseen by Larry Albert Associates Architects of Hattiesburg.  Under the guidance of MDAH the house was remarkably restored to its circa 1900 appearance.”

Today, the Charnley-Norwood house is open for tours.

“Upon entering the building, visitors often note the thoughtfulness of the design,” Rosenberg said. “Large expanses of glass doors are found throughout the house, and spacious porches provide views of the surrounding grounds and water.  Standing on these porches, looking across at the water, it is easy to imagine what initially inspired Louis Sullivan to choose the location for these houses.  The plethora of windows showers natural light into each of its rooms.  The T-shaped floor plan of the house affords views of the water from every room.  Inviting window seats offer anyone wishing to sit an opportunity to bask in the midst of sunlit pine walls.”

Anyone wishing to tour the Charnley-Norwood House can contact the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area at heritage@dmr.ms.gov.

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Vogue highlights Ocean Springs

The beauty of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is gaining national attention thanks to a recent article in Vogue.

Titled “A Summer Road Trip Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” author Anne Roderique-Jones describes the wonderful things about select Gulf Coast cities, including Ocean Springs. 

“Decimated by Hurricane Katrina, this area is coming back to life with a burgeoning food scene and a new batch of coastal artists who’ve followed in the footsteps of visionaries such as Richmond Barthé and Dusti Bongé.”

The article highlighted Ocean Springs destinations such as the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Shearwater Pottery, The Greenhouse on Porter, The Roost, and Vestige

“Dripping with charm, the colorful cottages are shaded by live oak trees, and residents bike through the bustling downtown, filling cloth bags with produce from the farmers’ market.”

Read the full article here.

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Sip and Shop in downtown Ocean Springs

Ocean Springs is home to many unique, local boutiques, but it can be difficult to check them out when they are only open while you’re at work. Well, your chance is coming up thanks to Third Thursdays Sip & Shop.

Sip & Shop is a monthly event in downtown Ocean Springs when various downtown establishments stay open “after hours,” usually 5-8 p.m.

Many offer refreshments and specials, encouraging you to make a night of things. It’s a fun way to explore downtown Ocean Springs while getting to unwind after a long day of work. 

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Shearwater Pottery stays alive in Ocean Springs

One of the unique forms of art that calls Jackson County home is Shearwater Pottery, which has continued through the ages thanks to the Anderson family.

“[Shearwater Pottery] was founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson, and Peter founded the pottering doing throwing and glaze ware,” explained Business Manager Beth Ashley. “Then a couple years later his brothers Walter and Mac joined. They designed figurines and decorated pots. We continue on as a family today to make pottery.”

According to the business’s website, Shearwater Pottery is crafted using two distinct clay bodies. First, a white bodied clay from Tennessee is used to create “underglaze” castware. The cast pieces are hand painted or originally decorated. A buff bodied clay made largely from clay obtained from local Mississippi and Alabama sources is used to create thrown, jiggered or cast pieces, and, unless decorated, is glazed with one of Shearwater’s unique glazes.

“We continue to do Walter and Mac figurines, and we have younger generations doing their own decorative ware,” Ashley said. Three of Peter’s four children are still active in the ongoing production of Shearwater Pottery.

Establishments like Shearwater Pottery help continue Jackson County’s artistic history.

“My great-grandmother always wanted to see an art colony on the Coast,” Ashley said. “She had bought this property in 1917 with that kind of goal in mind, so I think it has become an art colony, especially our Ocean Springs community, but in general Jackson County. I think having a business like this go back that long has encouraged other artists as well.”

For anyone interested in Shearwater Pottery, check out the products and workshop at 102 Shearwater Drive in Ocean Springs.

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Museum preserves nationally-celebrated artwork

Tucked away on Washington Avenue in downtown Ocean Springs is the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, one of the many celebrations of Jackson County’s influencers.

According to the museum’s website, Walter Inglis Anderson is celebrated as an American master, whose depictions of the plants, animals, and people of the Gulf Coast have placed him among the foremost of American painters of the 20th Century.

“Here we preserve the works of Walter and his two brothers, Mac and Peter,” said WAMA Director of Development Corey Christie. “I’d say about 90 percent of the museum collection is made up of Walter’s works, but we also host other artists that are in line with his work.”

Currently, the museum is also housing the works of Memphis College of Art students, faculty and alumni. For the past three decades, the group has taken a summer trip to Horn Island in search of inspiration for their art, much in the same way Walter Anderson did during his lifetime.

“It’s a new way of seeing what he might have done were he alive today,” Christie said.

With Mississippi, and the Gulf Coast especially, home to so many notable artists, preserving the works of the Anderson family is a way to keep a part of the city’s history alive.

“Ocean Springs is kind of an art town, and this is kind of where it started,” Christie said. “Not only does the museum preserve the artwork, but it is an asset for the local economy as well. People come from all over the visit the museum, but when they visit, that’s not all they do here. They’ll stay in the hotels or eat at the local restaurants.”

The museum is sponsored by Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, Paddles Up, Jackson County, Ocean Springs Live and Alexander, Van Loon, Sloan, Levens & Favre accounting.

Museum hours are 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. For more details, visit their website.

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Diners offered challenge in Culinary Passport

Ocean Springs offers a variety of restaurants, and now diners have the opportunity to be rewarded for eating out thanks to the Ocean Springs Culinary Passport. 

The concept is simple: pick up a passport at the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. Spend $10 on food and drink at a participating Ocean Springs eatery (marked with a window decal) to get your passport stamped. After collecting 10 stamps from 10 different participating establishments, drop off or mail the passport to the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce to receive a free gift and be entered for a prize.

“This is the first time to provide a culinary passport in Ocean Springs,” said Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “I have been part of other passport programs from the Heritage Trust stamp to the National Park service passport stamp, so it helped to give me the idea for something similar to showcase and continually promote and publicize our local restaurants and nightlife venues in Ocean Springs.”

The current passports are valid for an entire year, allowing anyone to participate in the program, from a family is stopping in for a vacation and need to know where to eat to an Ocean Springs resident who has trouble deciding what to have for dinner.

“It is a great way to get more exposure and publicity for their individual businesses,” Sutton said. “If locals and travelers know they are going to be rewarded, then it incentivizes folks to eat with us in Ocean Springs. Also, it is a fun tool to get out and challenge yourself to complete the project.”

Participants are also able to share their dining experiences on social media through #osculinarypassport, allowing the perfect opportunity to discover the diverse range of culinary experiences Ocean Springs has to offer.

For more information about participating restaurants, visit the Culinary Passport website.

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Fishing rodeo goes on despite rainy weather

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Even though the first weekend of June wasn’t met with the most ideal weather, that did not stop local fishers from coming out to the Ocean Springs Marine Mart Fishing Rodeo.

The two-day tournament ran Saturday and Sunday, and fishing began first thing Saturday morning.

“We have two different divisions for this tournament,” said Kenny Deniro, tournament director.” We have the offshore division, which involves Cobia and Red Snapper. The in-shore division has Red Fish, Speckled Trout, Flounder and Blackfish.”

The event wasn’t exclusive to competitors, as there was also live music, food and drink offered for anyone just wanting to see the fish and feel like part of the community.

“This is a good economic driver and an old-fashioned way of getting the community together,” said Jim Franks. Franks works at the Gulf Coast Research Lab with the University of Southern Mississippi and served as the Weigh Master at the tournament. “Everyone is interested in fish, so this is good all around for Jackson County.” Franks has served as weigh master for similar events for 30 years.

Winners, announced Sunday evening, were Tomas Pojer for Cobia, Jerry Plaskett for Red Snapper, Todd Lipps Jr. for Black Fish, Donnie Bosarge for Speckled Trout, Jeffery Waltman for Red Fish, and Aaron Chu for Flounder. 

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Ocean Springs holds annual Red, White & Blueberry Festival

June is the beginning of blueberry season, so there is no better way to spend the first Saturday in June than to enjoy the annual Red, White & Blueberry Festival in downtown Ocean Springs.

“We have it every June here in downtown, and what it is, we partner with the Ocean Springs Fresh Market,” said Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. “They beef up the vendors. We have blueberry growers, we have blueberry lemonade out here. We have all kinds of other good stuff. Then, courtesy of the Chamber, we give away free vanilla ice cream topped with blueberries from the vendors and strawberries. In addition to all of that, we have some cooking demonstrations out and here and some talks from the master gardeners, so it’s a fun day.”

Mixed amongst the usual Fresh Market vendors selling local produce, baked goods, and homemade crafts were tents specializing in blueberry treats, from fresh fruit to blueberry lemonade, a drink that was a welcome refreshment to the afternoon humidity caused by the morning showers. While it did rain during the festival, that did not seem to scare away any customers.

“The rain hasn’t kept anybody away,” Sutton said. “It has been amazing. I can’t tell you how many cups of ice cream we’ve given out so far, but the line has gone halfway through the fresh market, so it’s been a great turn out.”

During the festival, a shower did make an appearance, but that did not drive customers away. Knowing South Mississippi weather, some attendees took shelter from the rain under the train depot awning, choosing to wait 10 minutes for the sun to come back out. Some visitors simply pulled out their umbrellas, and others just walked through the rain completely unfazed and determined to get some good deals on some local goods. A few children even took the opportunity to splash in some puddles.

Other blueberry offerings included jams, blueberry baked goods and even a blueberry-pepper jelly, unique yet deliciously sweet and spicy offering from The Grumpy Man out of Purvis.

Visitors of all ages, from retirees looking for a fun weekend event and ways to supplement their home gardens to new parents needing a chance to get out of the house and also expose their young children to healthy eating at an early age, took the opportunity for experience this annual event as welcome to the summer season and get them exploring downtown Ocean Springs.

For anyone that might have missed the Red, White & Blueberry Festival, the Fresh Market will continue in Ocean Springs every Saturday, and with blueberry season still in its infancy, there is sure to be no shortage of blueberry offerings in the weeks to come.

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