Bay Saint Louis is the third oldest city on the Gulf of Mexico. More than any other city on the Gulf, the Bay was influenced by New Orleans houses in design, materials and use because the majority of citizens were summer residents from New Orleans. They built most of the familiar styles of houses found in New Orleans: shotguns, Greek revival, Queen Anne, bungalows and Creole cottages.
Hancock County also had the largest sawmill in the world until June 1930 when it closed because all the lumber accessible to the mill had been harvested. Subsequently, all but two early homes in the city were built of heart pine, most had clapboard siding, porches, overhangs, and were raised on piers. Traditionally they were painted white and were trimmed in dark green or black.
A few mission architecture houses were built in the 1930s and 1940s which were painted pastel colors, usually so light that the variants of color and style never caught the viewer's attention, but rather left a harmonious impression of the row of beachfront mansions. Beachfront houses traditionally had broad front porches and tall windows, both designed to take advantage of the evening breezes not available in New Orleans.
For a description and some examples of the styles that are prevalent in this area, click on the links below.
- Creole Cottage
- Shotgun Single
- Queen Anne
- Double Gallery
- French Colonial
- Greek Revival
- Colonial Revival
- Mission Revival
In 1977, the Department of Archives & History nominated five National Historic Districts and ten individual properties to the National Register within the city of Bay Saint Louis. Mayor Larry Bennett was notified on January 6, 1981 that the first four of the below listed districts had been entered in the National Register in 1980 and the fifth, the Elmwood District was added later that year.
Beach Boulevard Historic District
(added 1980 - Hancock County - #80002239)
Roughly bounded by Beach Blvd., Necaise Ave., Seminary Dr., 2nd and 3rd Sts., Bay St. Louis
(1750 acres, 690 buildings)
Beach Boulevard Historic District encompasses a 1750-acre area of the city of Bay Saint Louis incorporating an almost two-mile strip of Beach Boulevard properties as well as most of the central business core located in the middle of the district around Main Street and surrounding residential properties. Beach Boulevard is characterized by one and two-story residences, dating from 1787 to 1940 which are generally larger and more detailed than houses farther west, although there is a small proliferation of two-story houses between the city hall and the railroad depot on Union and Keller streets. West of Hancock Street houses become more vernacular, with simpler detail. Shotgun and Creole cottages are prevalent and can be found in various forms with addition and details from several periods.
Main Street Historic District
(added 1980 - Hancock County - #80002241)
Main St., Bay St. Louis
(10 acres, 6 buildings)
Main Street District contains a linear row of one-story vernacular dwellings located on the south side and toward the western end of Main Street. The district contains two Creole cottages and three shotgun cottages dating from the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and one Bungalow-style cottage of ca. 1920 construction. All are one-story dwellings and, with the exception of the Bungalow, which is clad with stucco, all are frame. Gable roofs predominate.
Sycamore Street Historic District
(added 1980 - Hancock County - #80002242)
Sycamore St., Bay St. Louis
(30 acres, 10 buildings)
The Sycamore Street Historic District contains two commercial buildings and eight residences lining the north side of sycamore street east and west of the Old Spanish Trail which runs north to south. The two commercial buildings are located on the Spanish Trail.
Washington Street Historic District
(added 1980 - Hancock County - #80002243)
Washington St., Bay St. Louis
(30 acres, 12 buildings)
Washington Street Historic District contains twelve structures located west of the railroad tracks.
Eleven are arranged in a linear formation on the south side of Washington Street, with one located on the north side. One building is located west of St. Francis Street, with all others located east of that street.
Elmwood Historic District
(added 1981 Hancock County)
North Beach Boulevard, Bay Saint Louis
Elmwood Historic District contains ten residential structures oriented toward St. Louis Bay and arranged linearly south to north on the west side of North Beach Boulevard. Elmwood Manor, the only brick two-and-a-half-story building, is the most northerly structure in the district.
Current events: Preservation Ordinance
The Hancock County Historical Society is pleased to announce that efforts have been made to preserve the atmosphere and charm of these historic districts.