The Sanborn map collection consists of a uniform series of large-scale maps, dating from 1867 to the present and depicting the commercial, industrial, and residential sections of some twelve thousand cities and towns in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The maps were designed to assist fire insurance agents in determining the degree of hazard associated with a particular property and therefore show the size, shape, and construction of dwellings, commercial buildings, and factories as well as fire walls, locations of windows and doors, sprinkler systems, and types of roofs. The maps also indicate widths and names of streets, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. They show the locations of water mains, giving their dimensions, and of fire alarm boxes and hydrants. Sanborn maps are thus an unrivaled source of information about the structure and use of buildings in American cities.
When asked to assist in finding a family name or some no longer existing building or landmark, I usually try to respond by first searching through my own database which has become somewhat extensive. Then, if the project peaks my interest, I may endeavor further research as in the recent request by a granddaughter of James G. Fayard.
I was given the following information in seeking to assist in finding the "Fayard Hotel," which she was told existed in Bay St. Louis.
"My grandfather owned a hotel in Bay St. Louis named the Fayard Hotel around 1900. Supposedly it burned down and was near the railroad tracks. We have a photo of it, but have never been able to locate any history about it.
"My dad was born in 1904. So (the) hotel would have to be there between then and at least 1919, as my dad stated he went there during the summer by train.
Their mother and his brother/sister lived in New Orleans in order for kids to have access to school and for their mother to have some care...supposedly she was not well. It is unclear as to whether the hotel burned while my grandfather owned it. Another part of the story goes that he went bankrupt and lost the hotel when alcohol running ships could no longer bring liquor there...not sure what that was all about.
"Anyway, all these people are deceased so no live story-tellers exist. While my dad was still alive, I drove him around Bay St Louis to see if he could pinpoint the site. He remembered the town setting, but could not remember the exact location of the hotel.
"Perhaps an unsolved mystery."
The Granddaughter emailed a copy photo of the Hotel which is an excellent rendering as you can see below.
My first response was that this hotel may not have existed in Bay St Louis, and more certainly, was not operating as the "Fayard Hotel." In examining the physical structure, it appears rectangular and its foundation laid out on a triangular lot with streets on each side of the building.
Further, there appears to be no compound for trees, lawns, or customary offset kitchens, although the cottages at left may be guest cottages. The building is absent of signs that would distinguish it as a hotel, boarding house, or general store. -- And a church steeple is visible at right down the side street.
In furthering my discovery, I sought copies of the Sanborn maps which are stored on Micro-fiche at the Hancock Main Library and copied the plats shown below.
The Crescent Hotel was considered to be the most popular and largest hotel, as owned by father and son mayors of the community, the Toulmes. During the 1890s the hotel was renovated and became the Pickwick Hotel as shown below.
The Pickwick reportedly burned down during the Fire of 1907, but is shown here in 1917. Perhaps, the adjustment had not been made on the above plat.
The Crescent/Pickwick complex is shown above in 1930, with Court Street having been laid out and a Filling Station taking up the corner, which today operates for the past number of years as a saloon and antique store.
I was satisfied that this site was not the quest of the seeker. Further, the architectural features did not match any of the other hotels such as the Tulane, the Klock, the Clinton, etc.
Back to the Library I went to re-examine rectangular shaped buildiings on a triangular shaped lot that was hopefully near the railroad.
Ahah! --- I spy the hotel as shown below on Sanborn Maps.
In 1904, it is shown as the Gilmore Hotel.
Shaded in Yellow.
In 1909, it was shown as Bancard's Hotel.
Shaded in Yellow.
In 1917, it is shown as a Saloon and Rooms with a Barber Shop in the rear.
The following vignette seems appropriate at this point, perhaps remembered from the above noted barber shop.
A barber in Bay St. Louis by the Train Station, on completing one of his customers and dusting him off, the customer stated, "Well, I hope I look better now!"
The Barber replied, "Son, that's a birth defect, but you do have a good haircut!"
In 1924, it is shown without a description of its use.
Below is another photo of the Railroad Ave entrance showing James G. Fayard at right with hand on hip. When I first viewed this picture, I wondered what captured the interest of the men on the steps. The Sanborn maps show the old railroad depot being in that general direction, so they were apparently watching a train, possibly with passengers stepping down to the platform.
The above information would have been very much difficult to find without deed book references, but the Sanborn maps were able to make this a find. More so, since the maps show a vacant church on Keller Street about the distance as shown in the first photgraph of the "Fayard Hotel."
VOILA! The granddaughter emailed back.
"You genius! You solved the mystery of the location. My grandfather's name was James G. Fayard, i.e., James Gilmore Fayard. My father was James Gilmore Fayard, Jr. James Gilmore Fayard, Sr.'s father was reported to be Gilmore Fayard (unsure of middle name)."