- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
When a distinctive property like 100 Men Hall goes on the market, the sellers usually have to relinquish their original dreams for the building. But in the case of this historic blues venue in Bay St. Louis, the July 28th closing was a jubilant one for all involved.
New owners Rachel Dangermond and her son, Constantin (“Tin”), began moving into the 4,500 square foot hall the day after the purchase. And Dangermond has already scheduled an event in the venue for the second week of August that will carry on the previous owners’ resolution to make the building a hub of community life.
This Big Buzz
Continuing the rehab, the Loyas reopened the hall as a music and event venue in 2010. The building had come full circle. In the mid-1900s, 100 Men Hall had been a rocking stop for blues performers like BB King, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and James Brown. Under the Loyas’ stewardship, the hall has hosted everything from weddings to Cajun dance parties in the past eight years.
And the peaceful setting would provide the perfect backdrop for the writers’ workshop side of her career that she planned to expand. She’d been facilitating the memoir-writing workshops in her home for years, yet wanted to offer them more frequently and in a more formal setting.
A coast friend who knew about Dangermond’s plans sent her information on 100 Men Hall when it came up for sale. The writer filed it away until, after a trying day, she pulled up the link to the hall’s for-sale page. She called immediately for a showing.
The hall’s listing agent, Holly Lemoine-Ramond, noted that the sale itself was seamless. “We had lots of interest, but this was meant to be. When we all met for the first time, there was an instant connection. While Kerry and Jesse knew they couldn’t choose who bought their place, it was wonderful to have a purchaser carrying on with the same basic concept.”
Real estate agent Matt Stieffel has been friends with Dangermond for two years and represented her in the sale.
“I’m very excited for Rachel and her exciting new chapter resurrecting 100 Men Hall,” Stieffel said. “Bay St. Louis is lucky to have her as a resident and proprietor for such an iconic piece of our history.”
Ironically, the workshop focuses on financing and tax credits for historic buildings that are used for businesses. “I’m going to participate too because I need to know these things,” said Dangermond.
“We’re going to split the money,” Tin said, during the Shoofly Magazine photo session.
“He’s the hundred-and-first man,” said Dangermond, laughing. “If nothing else [comes out of this venture], he’s going to learn the skills of running a business.”
Between unpacking boxes and getting Tin ready to start school, the writer is still finding a bit of time to appreciate her new community. She mentioned several helpful neighbors and new friends helping to smooth the big transition.
“I’m so thrilled to be in Bay St. Louis,” she said. “The first day I spent in the hall, I took a long walk on the beach. It felt like trumpets were blowing.”