Past Year’s Tour Of Homes & Parties
The Pass Christian Historical Society traditionally holds a Tour of Homes or Garden Party on the first Sunday in May.
May 1, 2011: 33rd Annual Tour of Homes
Featuring the homes of West Beach, including:
* Conwill Guest House and Gardens, 910 W. Beach Blvd – Architect: Barry Fox
* C.C. “Hap” and Betsy Crusel, 820 W. Beach – Architect: Davis Jahncke
* Walter James and Berthe Amoss, 812 W. Beach Blvd. – Architect: Nancy Monroe
* Claude “Doc” and Alice Perrier, 600 W. Beach Blvd. – Architect: Fred Wagner
* Gray and Mary Kay Parker, 610 St. Louis St. – Architect: Robin Riley
* Mr. & Mrs. Philip Woollam, 609 St. Louis St.
May 2, 2010: 32nd Annual Garden Party and Home Tour at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Michael McElroy, 533 East Scenic
May 3, 2009: 31st Annual Tour of Homes, featuring
* 715 East Scenic – Mr. and Mrs. William Kimble, 1840s, remodeled 1905. Incorporates an earlier house of brick and timber. This lovely home is the last antebellum brick home in Pass Christian and that it is of brick suggests that it is among the very earliest homes. Tradition has it that there had been an early 19th century brick yard nearby (although the nearest clay sources would have been miles away.) The rounded portico in front was part of an early twentieth century renovation done when such porticos were all the rage in the Pass. (Our famous Mexican Gulf Hotel at Davis Avenue installed a similar portico at about this time.) If you look at the home from, say, Hackett Lane, you can see the earlier lines of the home off to the east. William Hardie, who with his brother drilled the first artesian well in the Pass, was an early owner of this home.
* 765 East Scenic – Mr. and Mrs. Robert Dale Mathews. 1972 & 2007-08. The owners, having lost a home on West Beach to Katrina, purchased in late 2007 a slightly damaged Georgian-style home on this site. By adding extensive and magnificent porches, as well as numerous other details, they transformed the property into a modern implementation of a coastal classic. The original home was built by Bay St. Louis architect Fred Wagner for the Spence family; the recent makeover was completed by Baton Rouge architect Chuck Oliver and one of the home owners, who is an interior designer. The site itself was part of the grounds of the famous Dixie White House. Interestingly, following Hurricane Camille in 1969 an old cast iron kettle, thought to be used in evaporating sea water to obtain salt during the Civil War, was found nearby.
* 767 East Scenic – Dr. William Sewell and Dr. Julianne Huber. A magnificent and meticulous 2008 reconstruction of the antebellum Dixie White House (also known as “Beaulieu”), where presidents Grant and Wilson once stayed. Reconstruction of the house was something that the homeowners were researching when Katrina struck, delaying their plans. But now the building is here. As the historical marker out front explains, sitting President Woodrow Wilson stayed here for several weeks in the winter of 1913-14, and as you ascend the stairs you might imagine yourself in the reception line that President Wilson held for locals near the end of his stay. Another president also stayed here: President Grant visited the Pass in 1881 and stayed with his old friend, Maj. Gen. William S. Harney of St. Louis (1880-1889). The reconstruction has a special place in the hearts of the Historical Society: the Society was founded shortly before Hurricane Camille with the specific purpose of preserving the Dixie White House. Unfortunately, the original building was badly damaged in Camille and subsequently razed.
* 801 East Scenic – Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Koerner, late 19th century. This long, low bungalow was for many years a next-door neighbor of the Dixie White House. The property was once part of a larger tract to the north. A deed of 1842 records the sale of the front part and the creation of a 10’ road (now Lang Avenue) as an easement to the portion to the north. This is the last bungalow of its kind on the beach. A similar bungalow at Hiern Avenue was lost to Katrina. The white picket fence is a reminder of the day when virtually every home on Scenic had such a fence.
* 855 East Scenic – Mr. and Mrs. Charles “Chase” Moseley, ca. 1890s. This home was built by a leading merchant, Elmer Northrop, the owner of “Northrup’s Cheap Shanty,” which once stood where Hancock Bank now stands at Davis Avenue. An early cart-de-view shows the home as a two-story rectangle frame, probably stained green with a tin hip-roof and two flanking open air porches. Numerous additions have been made over time. Most recently, the new owners, who purchased the home following Katrina, have added the wonderful stone fence and detailed mill work that have given the building a dressed-up arts and crafts look, echoing back to postcards we have seen of the home ca 1920, when vines partly draped the house.
* 947 East Scenic – Mr. and Mrs. Oliver S. Montagnet, Jr., ca 1910. This gracious turn-of-the-century variation of the popular coast cottage was built about 1910 by local contractor Frank Wittmann for the president of the Pass Christian Bank (which failed shortly after opening and later housed the Historical Society). Notice the lovely roof line with its “bell-cast” flare and beautiful proportions. A little east of here, where Scenic connects with Highway 90, is the site of a Confederate encampment in the early days of the Civil War. Death from disease, however, was so high, that it had to be relocated. The home immediately west of here was built by Roger Hiern, a steamboat captain, who in 1848 brought Presidential candidate Zachary Taylor to Pass Christian on an extended campaign stop.
May 4, 2008: 30th Annual Tour of Homes – first since Katrina. Featuring:
* 513 E. Scenic Dr. (ca. 1888-1910) – Dr. & Mrs. Philip Schaeffer. Thanks to the quick thinking of the Schaeffers, who shored up the home’s foundation almost immediately after Katrina, this home avoided the fate of virtually every home and building to their west on the beach front. To facilitate the repairs, the owners camped out in a FEMA trailer for months while work went on. Even so, the Schaeffers, like virtually every resident of the Pass, don’t know what they would have done without the support of the many volunteers who came to the Pass from all over the nation following Katrina. Architecturally, the home is a rare example of the late nineteenth century Arts & Crafts style architecture on the coast — notice the signature pair of casement windows and a shallow balcony immediately below the front roof gable. The garconniere dates from 1888.
* 541 E. Scenic Dr. (ca. 1850 with early 1900 additions) – Mr. & Mrs. James M. McMullan. A young William Faulkner was the guest at this home in 1925 when he wrote his mother, “This place is the Newport of the Gulf Coast, all rich folks.” During the nineteenth century this home was apparently one of three adjacent and architecturally similar homes, in the Pass’s famous 500 block. The rambling one-story frame dwelling has an insert gallery with square columns set beneath a stepped hip roof. The original house consisted of the five westernmost bays. During much of its existence the home was owned by the Buddig and Rainold families. Current owners Mr. and Mrs. James M. McMullan, who live in Chicago, but have deep roots in Mississippi and the Gulf Coast, have done a complete renovation of the house.
* 625 E. Scenic Dr. (ca. 1845-1910) – Ms. Margaret Loesch. Number 625 East Scenic is one of the most historic sites in Pass Christian. It is thought that a an early nineteenth century Frenchman attempted silk production on the site, and in modern times a recent owner noticed a random mulberry bush growing on the grounds, perhaps the descendant of an earlier mulberry tree planted to feed the silkworms. The present home, although much damaged in Katrina, is thought to date from as early as 1845 (considerably after our silk producer) with a significant make-over in the late nineteenth century and another apparently after the 1915 hurricane. Notice the graceful stairway, a trademark feature of Frank Wittmann, Sr., a deservedly famous local builder who did the 1915 renovation. Also notice the unusual hip roof. Pre-Katrina visitors to the Pass will remember the home’s wonderful live oaks and magnolias that largely hid the home from the street, its white picket fence festooned in early summer with Seven Sisters roses, and its walkway lined with cheerful Stella Dore daylilies. (The daylilies we are glad to say survived the storm, and the roses have been replanted.) Every effort is being made by current owner Margaret Loesch, who purchased the home after Katrina, but lived in it as a child (she now lives and works as a children’s film producer in California), to faithfully restore this magnificent old place.
* 845 E. Scenic Dr. (ca. 1964, 1997) – Mr. & Mrs. Charles Ramsey. If the youthful William Faulkner imagined that Pass Christian was the “Newport of the South” after visiting another of the homes on tour, the builder of this residence, New Orleans philanthropist J. Edgar Monroe would probably have agreed. Before building this home in early sixties, Mr. Monroe owned ‘Rosecliff’ in Newport, where the 1974 movie version of “The Great Gatsby” starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow was filmed. Expanded by the Ramseys in 1997 this address of 30,000 square feet is said to be the largest private residence in Mississippi. The philanthropic tradition of the Monroes has continued under the Ramseys who have generously lent their lovely home and its spacious grounds to many civic causes, including the regionally famous “Toast of the Coast” a fundraiser for a local school.
* 849 E. Scenic Dr. (ca. 1848) Mr. & Mrs. Morris Foster. With its nine bays across the front (a typical older home will have only three or five bays) this home is, for many towns folk, the crown jewel of Pass Christian’s nineteenth century “cottages.” Happily, this home with its high foundation piers was largely untouched by Katrina — flood waters were to flow underneath the house. When visiting the home don’t miss the early 20th century photo that shows cattle grazing in the front of the home, and indeed down to the waters of the sound. Previous owners Dr. and Mrs. Harry Danielson (lately of the Pass) condcuted the extensive restoration work on this home prior to Katrina and were generous in lending the home and its grounds to civic causes. The home’s new owners have carried on this tradition.
* 7 Japonica Dr. (1902) – Mr. & Mrs. Alan C. Hardy. This home, impressive in its own right, was apparently built as a guest house to one of the most imposing structures in Pass Christian, the Greek Revival Ossian Hall (1848-1956) which stood immediately east of the tour house. Former owner Tom Shellnut, who with his wife Sandra lived in and renovated the tour house in the 1970s, points out that Ossian Hall, which was long associated with the Miltenberger family of New Orleans, represented the eastern edge of old Pass Christian. Our grandparents might have remembered when New Orleans actress Marguerite Clark made the silent film “Come Out of the Kitchen” on these grounds in 1919. (Clark’s New Orleans home is now a branch of the New Orleans Public Library on St. Charles Ave.) Present owners Alan and Clayton Hardy remained in this house during Hurricane Katrina and miraculously survived. The house was seriously damaged and has been meticulously repaired by the Hardys, who like so many residents along the coast occupied a small trailer during the restoration.