Hotels and Guest Houses -- 1852
A representative of the New Orleans Picayune described activities at Pass Christian in the Sumner of 1852, saying, "Hotels at this time, besides Montgomery's (Pass Christian Hotel), include the St. Nicholas House, for bachelors only, the Sans Souci, the Napoleon House, along with. many boarding houses."
Castles in the Sand
With the building of the New Orleans, Mobile and Chattanooga Railroad in 1869, Pass Christian became a Winter Resort for Northerners seeking to escape the cold. Hotels appeared up and down the beach to care for the visitors. The Magnolia replaced the Montgomery ; the Lynne Castle was located in Dr. Savage's old Institute; The Crescent run by the Hart family was famous for its food, most of which was raised on its own farm; and there was the largest of them all -- the Mexican Gulf. These were imposing wooden structures providing fine accommodations and all the amenities for the comfort of their guests, both winter and summer. There were also good boarding houses which were very fashionable in those days.
The Grey Castle was a handsome family hotel built by contractor, Frank Wittman in December 1929. The project included not only the hotel on the beach but a colony of cottages built around many oak and pine trees and beautiful lawns managed by Mrs. Wm. Coutourie. The Grey Castle Hotel thrived during the early 1930's but folded due to the Great Depression. It was later known as Xavier Hall, a retreat center operated by the Jesuits.
The Mexican Gulf Hotel Company of Pass Christian was organized in 1882 with an authorized capital of $35,000. Before the building was half finished it was found that the cost would be far in excess of the capital stock. The whole plant cost was about $105,000. Doors were opened to guests on June 16th, 1883, with M. J. Crawford as manager. The outstanding indebtedness began to cause trouble from the start. The company defaulted on the bond interest and they were foreclosed upon. The Stockholders led by Frank Howard leased the hotel to Crawford who struggled along until he spent all of his money and was finally closed out. A former administrative employee of the hotel, Bernard Chotard, then leased the hotel until it burned on January 8th, 1917.
The Pass Christian Hotel was built in the late 1840's It consisted of a center section with a wing on each end with a wide front porch. It was the main stopping place because it was located a short distance from the boat landing. It was later known as the Montgomery hotel for its manager, R.H. Montgomery. In 1866 it was purchased by the Christian Brothers and made into a Catholic College for boys. The building was later remodeled and opened as a hotel again, but destroyed by fire. The property was then purchased by Dr. Mayers who established a select school for girls. This, later became the Magnolia Hotel, and then, remodeled and named the New Magnolia. This structure burned. The present day Miramar Nursing Lodge is on the site.
Interview with Mrs. Margaret C. Farrell by Mrs. Betty Carlin (1978)
Tell me about the Mexican Gulf Hotel. It was a huge hotel, wasn't it?
Lovely, lovely. it took up that full corner there (E. Beach and east side of Davis Ave.). It was beautiful. They had all the wealthiest from the North and the West. The Governor and his wife came down. The President and his wife. It was wonderful then. Beautiful people. We had beautiful music and everything grand.
Did it stay open all year round or did it just open in the winter?
All year round. Summertime, it was the working people from New Orleans mostly who would come over here. But in the winter time it was for the very wealthy.
I suppose they had real good food in their dining room.
They did--really served them really good.
There were several other hotels too, weren't there?
Yes. There was the Crescent Hotel run by the Misses Hart. The New Magnolia was for some of the working class. Then the Lynne Castle. It was up-to-date. It was just fine. It was run by Mrs. Watkins and her daughter.
Let's see. The New Magnolia was where the Miramar Nursing Home is now?
Yes. Right there.
And the Lynne Castle was further west?
Yes, it was at West End. It was more stylish and more up-to-date. The Lynne Castle was mostly for the wealthy.
And all of these hotels burned, didn't they?
Almost every one.
I suppose they were big wooden buildings,
Yes. Just wooden buildings. Terrible fire.
It must have been. Did anyone lose their life in the fire?