Cottage Square


Designed by Bruce Tolar

Developed by Bruce Tolar

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

In the dark days of the Katrina Cottages, long after the buzz of the early news coverage died down and Lowe’s had ended their experiment in kit houses, one heroic character pushed on with the original dream. Bruce Tolar, an architect by trade, bet everything on Cottage Square, where his mission was to bring together all of the different types of Katrina Cottages in one place, where people could see what all the excitement was originally about. He brought Katrina Cottage I there, then Katrina Cottage II. Katrina Cottage IV was built there originally, then he later built Katrina Cottages VII and VIII there as well.

President Bush signed the Baker Bill to authorize FEMA to provide permanent structures after disasters, a measure for which we fought tenaciously with FEMA at the Mississippi Renewal Forum and beyond, but in spite of the Act of Congress, FEMA pulled all Mississippi Cottages out after 18 months and auctioned them off. Bruce bought several of them and installed them at Cottage Square, along with the Katrina Cottages.

Cottage Square is a mixed-use neighborhood, with over a dozen literal “cottage industries,” along with dozens of neighbors. In spite of the doubters, it survived, and then thrived, in no small part because of the highly supportive administration of Mayor Connie Moran. By 2011, Bruce had expanded Cottage Square with dozens more cottages of new designs. Bruce’s heroic work keeping the Katrina Cottages alive and giving them a home at Cottage Square were in a large part responsible for his winning the Barranco Award for Architecture from the New Urban Guild in 2015. Today, he is working with John Anderson to spread neighborhoods of cottages like Cottage Square to other parts of the country.

© New Urban Guild 2017