While one can look at Beach Boulevard and notice the absence of commercialization but not know that Waveland is the only city on the Gulf Coast which prohibits commercial buildings on its beachfront. Good for them! That certainly makes Beach Boulevard all the more charming and inviting, a quiet retreat.
Originally part of Shieldsboro, which is now Bay St. Louis, Waveland became a separate municipality in 1888 and a city in 1970. Coleman Avenue has endured destruction twice: once by Hurricane Camille in 1969 and again by Hurricane Katina in 2005. But Coleman Avenue is slowly coming back as are houses on the beach.
What is now the Ground Zero Museum started out as the Civic Center and was the only building left standing on Coleman Avenue following Hurricane Katrina. It is home to a hand-cranked carousel that was donated to Waveland after Katrine by the people of Port Townsend Washington.
Many interesting details about the history of Waveland can be found on this website and I encourage you to visit and read all about Waveland’s storied past!
Bay St. Louis is one of the oldest cities in South Mississippi, established over 300 years ago in 1699 and was originally named Shieldsboro, after a ship’s purser named Thomas Shields. Renamed in 1818 to the current name, Bay St. Louis was slated to be the first state capital but lost out to Natchez, which, shortly thereafter, lost out to Jackson. What wasn’t lost to Jackson was the area’s charm and affinity for the arts.
Bay St. Louis has the distinction of being home to artists, sets for movies, and some of the oldest, most historic buildings in Mississippi. Among the buildings are:
The 1899 Hancock Bank Building (the oldest two-story building in the city) located at 100 S. Beach Blvd;
The 1925 Masonic Temple Building at 125 Main Street, a neo-classic Revival style building;
The Train Depot, 1928 Depot Way, two-story mission style depot built in 1928 and famously served as a set in “This Property is Condemned”;
The Queen Anne style home located at 398 Blaize Ave. was built in 1916, and is was the centerpiece of the movie “This Property is Condemned House“, based on a play by Tennessee Williams. This building is now the home of the Bay St. Louis Little Theater.
One of the most well-known artists from Bay St, Louis was Alice Moseley. Ms. Moseley began her artistic career at age 60 and lived to be 94. The Alice Moseley House is located at 214 Bookter Street.
Many more historic and stunning buildings abound in Bay St. Louis. The best place to go for information is to the Depot Visitor’s Center. This building also houses the Alice Moseley Museum, the Mardi Gras Museum, and the Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau.
From the Pine Hills Hotel in Pass Christian to the Great Southern Hotel in Gulfport and the White House Hotel in Biloxi, many grand and stately hotels once graced the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Time and progress, with the help of natural disasters, have taken their toll on these grand and historic buildings so that most are only picture-postcard memories, relegated to faded photos in long-lost picture albums.
A brief but thorough article on these Grand Dames of the Gulf Coast can be found on Wikipedia through the following link:
Individually, you will find the following articles on these all-but-forgotten treasures and again bring them to life in your imagination, seeing in your mind’s eye their grandeur and splendor, that has, like so much in the South, “Gone With the Wind”.
Walking through Old Town Bay St. Louis today, we found this great organic art peice on the fence next to The Mockingbird's Stage. A great colorful piece that has an organic and folk arts appeal. Catch it while you can as the rain will surely send this treasure to the past. It is things like this that make living on the coast of Mississippi wonderful!