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History of Bay St Louis -- Past

Conflagrations

Fire of 1894
     "Mr. L. Olivari, whose general merchandise store was formerly known as Spotorno & Co., furnished the first food for one of the most disastrous conflagrations in the history of Bay St. Louis at about half past four o'clock this morning, as it was here where the fire was given birth.  The fire created loses that can and never will be correctly estimated, owing to the vastness of the destructive powers of the angry, rushing flames.  The origin is not known, but there is every indication to believe it the work of an incendiary.  Fanned by the strong wind the fire had soon gained considerable headway and it was plainly evidenced that the entire front square was doomed.  This fire has left more than one penniless and homeless, and the president of St. Stanislaus college is out this morning with a subscription list for the benefit of the unfortunate.  The list is headed by the college with one hundred dollars cash."  
(Sea Coast Echo, 2/17/1894)
     The following is a list of the properties totally destroyed:BayStLouis1911
L. Olivari, store, warehouse buildings, and two cottages.
August Quintini, one cottage and small shop building.
August Keller, store with contents and two 1-story dwellings.
Charles Sanger's "Mulberry Cottage".
R. Guerra, barber shop, residence and two-story frame building.
W.H. Yenni, one story frame residence and shoe store.
     Other properties destroyed belonged to Claud Monti and single and multiple cottages belonging to Mrs. Huber, Mrs. Mendez, Mrs. Bosetto, Mrs. Belleme, Mrs. Pero, Mr. Davis, and A.D. Pierce.

Fire of 1907
     "This morning a fire was discovered about 5 o'clock in   Osoinach's (Opera House) Theatre.  Immediately north of the big Opera House was located the Merchants Bank while in the same yard, a little westward, stood the handsome home of Walter Gex, the well known attorney.  Across the street were located Evans Drug Store, an annex to the Clifton House, a fruit stand, and Miss Josie Welch's Book Store.  South of the Opera House extending to the corner of Union Street where the fire was finally brought under control, stretched a number of costly buildings including the   Clifton Hotel, St. Joseph's Convent, the Catholic Church, the Planchet Store building, and a number of private dwellings.  The Bay is supplied with very poor fire fighting apparatus and still poorer system of water works.  It was only the wide sweep of open country between the Bank and the Pickwick Hotel that kept the latter from going also.  The Markey House (Crescent Hotel), one of the old landmarks was gone and the Convent building (St. Joseph's), loved and revered by every Bay St. Louisian - also the Church of Our Lady of the Gulf.  Osoinach's Opera House was of recent construction . . . The Merchants Bank was completed about six months ago of brick . . . The Convent consisted of several buildings . . . The Church was a venerable old pile . . . together with the rectory . . ."  (Gulfport Daily Record-Tribune, Nov. 16, 1907)
     "With this conflagration is wiped away one of the oldest landmarks:  Father Leduc's beautiful Church of Our Lady of the Gulf with its four dialed town clock and the Bells, which for all these years sounded the different events - joyous and solemn - as was their office to do.  There was something almost human when the church clock struck 7:30 just as the steeple which encased it crumbled and fell."  (Sea Coast Echo - Nov. 16, 1907).
     Ignition started in Osoinach's Opera House building, then it spread north to Main Street and South to Bookter Avenue.  With easterly winds shooting flaming sparks across narrow Front Street (Beach Avenue), the fire continued its destructive path to include the new Merchant Bank and the entire Catholic compound of church, rectory and two schools, and also crossing at Main Street to level many stores and cottages.

Fire of 1927
     On September 4, 1927 a fire broke out on the corner of Main Street and Beach Boulevard destroying six buildings including the Bourgeois Store (100 N. Beach), the Liberty Hotel (formerly L.A. DeMonluzin's first residence), the Muller Cottage, F.C. Bordage's residence and two adjoining structures facing Main Street.  The fire stopped spreading when it encountered the A&G Theater, which had been rebuilt of fireproof brick due to its having been destroyed by fire in June of 1924.



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