St Mary's College
Pass Christian College -- Christian Brothers -- 1866 - 1875
A casualty to the Yellow Fever scourge - - -
An excellent history was written by Brother Justin Lucian and was published by the Christian Brothers in 2000.
A limited edition entitled "Pass Christian College 1866 -- 1875" can be found at the local Library.
The opening of the Pass Christian Hotel transpired in 1831, not by that name nor of the grandiose size it would eventually become. The original two arpent site (400-foot beachfront by 1-mile-depth) was purchased from Edward Livingston by Charles Shipman. It set the stride that began in Pass Christian and eventually along the entire Gulf Coast, a magnificent model with elegant facilities that all later hotels attempted to compete against. Regardless, no other facility surpassed it until it burned down in 1877. During its time, ownership and management changed hands frequently, due in part to regional and national economic problems, Yellow Fever quarantines, and later, the Civil War.
In 1838, the New Orleans Daily Picayune announced that a wharf had been constructed, large enough to transport horse carriages from landing ships. The west wing of the Hotel was also completed.
By 1839, the Hotel added new growth to its complex. The Main living quarters originally housed 50 families. Large editions included a main dining room, a ballroom, a billiard room, a bowling alley, and, stables and bathing houses. To the rear of the hotel was a "Texas" which accommodated bunking quarters for single men. It was a 300-foot-long, two-story, barracks-like, rectangular building. Other hotels included such quarters to the rear grounds of their facilities. The name "Texas" was applied following a visitor's remark of similar designated quarters set aside for hard-drinking, Texan desperados who stayed up the night gambling and being rowdy.
Commonly called the Pass Christian Hotel, it underwent a name change in 1839, as it was temporarily called the New Brighton, only to revert back to the Pass Christian Hotel in 1841. In 1847, the “Prince of Inn Keepers,” R.H. Montgomery, became its general manager.
In 1848, a reception and grand-ball was given in honor of General Zachary Taylor, the Mexican War hero who was elected President two months later. On the following day, thousands attended a barbecue in his honor, as the General sat at a table placed atop an Indian mound in the live oak grove near the hotel.
In 1849, Montgomery announced the first Racing Regatta on the Coast. It brought to life the Southern Regatta Club with (next door neighbor) James W. Behan of Pass Christian as its first president. This was the second oldest Yacht Club in the Country with New York being its first. Following the founding of this Club, its headquarters was moved to New Orleans and renamed the Southern Yacht Club.
Racing fever took hold throughout all of the Coastal cities which have continued ever since. During these years, the Hotel was often referred to simply as, Montgomery's, and was also referred to as the "Saratoga of the South."
Montgomery ended his last year with a Yellow Fever epidemic and a Hurricane.
In 1851, the hotel was sold to Cuthbert Bullitt of New Orleans for $10,000.
Commencing with 1853, the hotel remained open year long with Summer guests arriving from New Orleans and Winter guests from northern states. With the Pass Christian Hotel as its focal point, cottages were being built that extended out on both sides along the shoreline. For this reason, historians have reported that Pass Christian wasn't a town with a Hotel, but a Hotel which possessed a Town.
In 1857 and 1858, the hotel was owned and operated by John McDonald.
The Hotel closed in 1861 with the onset of the Civil War.
Following the War, in 1865, the Hotel was purchased by the Christian Brothers under the auspices of St Mary's College. It was opened as a foremost Catholic Boy's College known as (St. Mary’s) Pass Christian College enrolling its students from all over the world in competition with Princeton College.
Brother Isaiah was expedited to supervise a crew of workmen to remodel and renovate the huge structure. Brother Isaiah also originated the first College Band composed of a 24 member Cornet Brass Group which became a universal trend. With the scourge of Yellow Fever in 1867, nine of the Brothers died, resulting in hampering the school's success. The Parish pastor, Father Georget, spent his life's savings attempting to keep the school open, however it finally closed in 1875.
The College was purchased and reopened as a Hotel only to burn down in 1877.