Be A Tourist in Your Own Community, part V
- photography by Ellis Anderson
The Bay, as it’s called by locals, is known for its quaint style and hometown feel that many say brings the fictional town of Mayberry to mind. But Bay St. Louis has many other sides to its appeal. It has been voted in recent years among the top Coolest Small Towns and Charming Small Towns in the U.S. as well as the Best Small Art Community. Below, you'll find some of the reasons Bay St. Louis has earned those and other honors.
Bridge, Beach and Angels:
The bridge intersects the Bay St. Louis beachfront, which is split into two distinct sections. To the north, along Beach Boulevard, there are homes on one side and the seawall and piers on the other. The only building on the bay side is the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club, whose members host and have won many prestigious racing competitions.
Toward the south, where Beach Boulevard crosses Main Street, is the city's Historic District, (often called "Old Town") with its collection of shops, restaurants, art galleries and bars. In the last few years the city’s new multi=million dollar harbor has become an attraction in itself. A few blocks past Main Street are more beautiful beachfront homes and a concrete path that gives walkers and bike riders the ideal way to take in the scenery along with the sea breeze.
Anyone who drives, bikes or walks along the beach will see another unusual attraction, an Angel Tree located in front of Our Lady of the Gulf Church. After Hurricane Katrina, chainsaw artist Dayle Lewis designed and carved oak trees, casualties of the storm, into the shape of angels.
Lewis carved a total of four trees in Bay St. Louis: two on the beach and two in the historic Cedar Rest Cemetery. Cedar Rest is the location of a wonderful Halloween tradition presented by the Hancock County Historic Society in which residents present reenactments of some of the city’s interesting occupants who are buried there.
Boating, Shopping and Dining:
The harbor has become home to some popular events including the annual Pirate Day in the Bay and Joes & Pro’s Fish Tournament, which attracts hundreds of participants and spectators. The Jimmy Rutherford Fishing Pier located on the east side of the Harbor is also popular for fishing and taking in the scenery along the waterfront.
The Main Street commercial district of Old Town Bay St. Louis consists of shops, galleries, restaurants, some occupying historic buildings. Old Town is always a hub of activities, including special events and parades. On the Second Saturday of each month, the Old Town merchants present an artwalk with gallery openings, live music and shopping specials that bring out residents and tourists to enjoy the fun. Each month there is a new theme and music venues, and local business "Hot Spots."
Walking, Biking and Trains:
The centerpiece of the nearby Depot District is the Historic L & N Train Depot. According to the county’s Historic Society the original wooden depot was built in 1876. Fifty years after the structure was completed, it was destroyed by a catastrophic fire. The new depot built in the Spanish Mission style was completed in 1929. Its grounds are a park-like setting with a walking track, duck pond, picnic tables, a swing, small pavilion and large trees to provide shade.
The Depot houses the Hancock County Visitor Center and Tourism Bureau which provides information on events and attractions. Be sure to pick up the Historic Walking/ Biking Guide (or download/open the digital version on the Shoofly's Map page!)which contains the history of Tercentenary Park, the Hancock County Courthouse (built in 1911), Kate Labrano House (built in 1896), Old City Hall (built in 1905), and the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre (built in 1916).
Among the theatre's productions is the annual Stella Yelling Contest and Blues Event held in March as a tribute to Mississippi writer Tennessee Williams’ birthday.
Located on first floor of the Depot is the colorful Mardi Gras Museum dedicated to the Carnival celebration in Hancock County that dates back to 1896, when the first parade rolled in Bay St. Louis. The Alice Moseley Folk Art & Antique Museum is on the second floor of the Depot and honors the works of Moseley, a nationally known folk artist who lived Bay St. Louis. The museum contains a collection of her original paintings and is open six days a week. Admission is free.
The oak covered setting in the front of the Depot is the setting to several events throughout out the year. In the month of December the Depot grounds are lit up for the Snowflakes and Sugar Plums Festival, which kicks off with a Christmas Parade. The parade route borders the Old town area and ends at the depot with entertainment and activities for the kids.
In June, the depot grounds host one of the most unique events in the county, Midsummer Night’s Dream hosted by the Depot District Association. This is a free nighttime event with fairy contests, lights in trees and music. For more information about all these events, check with Hancock County Tourism.
Rounding out the Depot District is The 100 Men Hall, an historic blues music venue that has its own Blues Trail Marker from The Mississippi Blues Commission.
CARS, CARS, CARS and More Cars:
For all events go to http://www.mswestcoast.org/ or come to the Visitor Center at 1928 Depot Way, Bay St. Louis.