Last of the grand hotels.
As reported by Tom Parker, son of the Louisiana Governor, Sullivan trained at the Grey Castle Hotel when it was owned by Menge. The boxing trainer lived in the Pass.
The Grey Castle
This was the site of an elegant Victorian home in the 900 block of East Beach Boulevard (Scenic Drive) and Menge Avenue which was owned by New Orleans ship chandler, J.H. Menge. Menge let John L. Sullivan use the facilities to train for the Sullivan-Ryan fight that took place on February 2, 1882,on the grounds of the old Barnes Hotel in Mississippi City.
It became the Grey Castle Hotel
in 1929 when its owner Edward Buckner of Jackson made the transformation. At the time, there were no other operating hotels, since the others had closed or had been burned down, when his secretary persuaded him to convert his home by adding wings to each side. These changes were built by contractor Frank Wittmann in December 1929. The nucleus was a rambling Queen Anne house with all bedrooms having an outside view, each with private baths and showers. The Grey Castle Hotel
was promoted as a family hotel and was the last hostelry built in Pass Christian. 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. William Coutourier.
The Grey Castle Hotel thrived during the early 1930's but soon folded due to the Great Depression. Ralph Hicks bought the Hotel in October 1941 and operated it for 8 years. It had 49 rooms with large closets and individual tiled bathrooms.
In 1950, the structure was purchased by the Jesuit Catholic Order for a Seminary at which time, the name was changed to Xavier Hall. It was later used as a Catholic Retreat for vacationing and retiring priests.
In 1957, the Jesuit's of New Orleans occupied part of the large edifice as a temporary home for the Provincial Superior and his staff. After the Jesuits moved out,Xavier Hall, as it was called, continued as a Retreat Home and the Oblates from Pine Hills moved in as the result of Hurricane Camille damages to their Bay area facility at Pine Hills-DeLisle.
During the period that the Brothers were in training at Pine Hills, and the Jesuits and Fathers were in "retreat" at Xavier Hall, the Catholic churches throughout the area benefitted by the influx of so many members of the Clergy, who had to perform Mass services in meeting their holy obligations.
Xavier Hall was eventually sold and torn down which resulted in two new residences being built at that site.