What am I talking about: slabs or falling-down houses that were severely damaged and left as eye-sores as a result of Hurricane Katrina?
You might also ask, “What do Robert Redford, Natalie Wood, Tennessee Williams, Sydney Pollack, and Old Town Bay St. Louis have in common”?
The answer to both of these questions is the 1966 movie, “This Property Is Condemned”. The movie was filmed in Old Town Bay St. Louis and “the property” in question not only survived Hurricane Katrina, but is now home to the Bay St. Louis Little Theater, 398 Blaize Avenue .
A short walking tour, starting at the Bay St. Louis Depot, features five significant buildings or locations used in the film and takes about 30 minutes. Additionally, the film is available for viewing any time before 2 p.m. in the Depot.
How cool is that!!
Just a very short distance from Diamondhead, right out the back, is a 122-year-old, 40-acre cemetery is one of Hancock County’s oldest, and it is famous for it fences–Rotten Bayou Cemetery. Many of the names familiar to all local residents are on headstones: Cuevas, Moran, Ladner, Dedeaux, Dubuisson, Necaise, Hoda, just to name a few. A partial listing of the indexed graves can be seen at the referenced website as can directions. More extensive and detailed information about the cemetery can be found here.
For one of the most exciting and valuable resources of information concerning “all things Hancock County–past, present, future” you need look no further than the Hancock County Historical Society.
Founded in 1977, the Society is housed in the Kate Lobrano House, 108 Cue Street, Bay St. Louis, near the Hancock County Courthouse.
Current Executive Director, Charles H Gray, is virtually a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about Hancock County and is spearheading the Society’s effort to create a computerized database of all written documents for instant access to any information needed. Records have been gathered from as many sources as are available and include newspapers and magazines, local city archives and authors, churches, schools–wherever records have been kept or have survived the hurricanes that have devastated Hancock County’s coast. Hancock County was founded in 1812 and named after John Hancock, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, so there is a potential for a plethora of documents to be maintained.
Thirty Thousand photographs have been collected, the majority from the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, and are housed in the Society’s vault, catalogued and categorized. Their website contains a wealth of information of both curiosity and importance that will entertain and enlighten you for hours.
Another interesting project of the Historical Society is the Hancock County Live Oak Tree Registration. Trees receiving this designation must be on private property and determined to be at least 100 years old, ascertained by the measurement of the circumference of the tree at a distance of 4.5 feet from the ground. A member of the Society will be able to assist you in measuring your tree to determine its age.
The Hancock County Historical Society is providing future generations of Coastal Mississippians with history and information that would be lost if not for their considerable efforts. Give them a call, drop by the Kate Lobrano House, or consider becoming a member. Memberships are only $25/year for individuals and come with discounts on the books and other items sold by the Society. Tours are offered by the society to historic places and a monthly luncheon meeting ($10) is held at the Lobrano House.
HANCOCK COUNTY HISTORICAL MARKERS
Given the name “Magnolia Markers”, Hancock County is home to a total of about 25 State Historical Markers. These markers commemorate significant dates, people, events, and historical places in Hancock County. Unfortunately, weather, fire and time have taken their toll on the buildings some of the markers have been erected to honor. With the exception of a very few destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and not yet replaced, the markers still stand as a remembrance to Hancock County’s storied past.
The Hancock County Historical Society maintains an updated list of the Magnolia Makers erected locally and a list of 17 can be accessed by through the following link: Magnolia Markers in Hancock County. A complete list can be found at MississippiMarkers.com.
Information on the 39 Harrison County Historical Markers can be accessed by the following two links: HARRISON COUNTY HISTORICAL MARKERS and StoppingPoints.com.
Jackson County is home to 26 markers and information on them can be found either at JACKSON COUNTY HISTORICAL MARKERS and StoppingPoints.com.
PLEASE NOTE: THESE LINKS MAY NOT IDENTIFY ALL OF THE MARKERS IN EACH COUNTY.
SPONSOR A MAGNOLIA MARKER
If you would like to sponsor a Magnolia Marker, you can find that information through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The process is outlined and applications are available on this website.
Solveig Wells was a master quiltmaker who had a second home on the Coast before Katrina. When that home was lost, so was Solveig’s extensive collection of fabrics.
Months later, many of the fabric’s in her collection were found on the beach weathered, frayed, and still wet.
To read Solveig’s amazing story of recovery and see photos of some of the 55 quilts she made from her destroyed fabric collection, click here.
The quilts were donated to the Ground Zero Hurricane Museum following Solveig’s death in 2013. As of this writing, the Museum undergoing repairs and is not open but you can still read Solveig’s inspiring story on their website.
While browsing the City of Waveland’s website, I ran across the “About Waveland” tab that contains some incredible information about “The Hospitality City”.
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!