Pass Christian Hotel
Pass Christian Hotel
became Pass Christian College
    The most active Historical site in Pass Christian began in 1831, with the opening of the Pass Christian Hotel.  The original 400-foot beachfront by 1-mile-depth was purchased from Edward Livingston by Charles Shipman who built the nucleus of the first hotel which set the stride that began in Pass Christian and eventually spread along the entire Gulf Coast, a hostelry that all later hotels attempted to compete against. No other facility surpassed its magnificence and elegant until after it burned down in 1877.  During its time, ownership and management changed hands a number of times, often due to financial crises brought about by 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.
     Originally known as the Pass Christian Hotel, 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, the second oldest Yacht Club in the Country with New York being its first.  Following the founding of this Club it was later 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. The Hotel was often referred to simply as, Montgomery's, it was also referred to as the "Saratoga of the South."
     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.  Montgomery ended his last year with a Yellow Fever epidemic and a Hurricane.

The Pass Christian Hotel -- in greater detail

     The beginnings of the Pass Christian Hotel as transpired, began in 1831, – ultimately  bringing to Pass Christian and the entire Gulf Coast “such a grandiose facility that all later hotels along the Coast mimicked it.”  Local historian and educator, Charles Sullivan is credited with stating, "Antebellum Pass Christian was not a town that possessed a hotel, but rather, a hotel that possessed a town."
     “The opening of the Pass Christian Hotel put the village on the map and was promoted as the best watering-place on the Lake, denoting that the Mississippi Sound was an extension of Lake Pontchartrain.”  Sullivan continued, "Most of our citizens who have a keen scent for good living, like sociability, love a good bottle of wine, and relish a joke, make the Pass Christian Hotel their favorite stomping ground."  

     There were several false starts and changes of operators during the first years of the hotel property that was owned by Charles Shipman.
     Charles Shipman had originally purchased the lots from Edward Livingston, as one of the early post War of 1812 visionaries in forecasting the destiny of Pass Christian.
     In 1838, the New Orleans Daily Picayune announced that a wharf, the “Steamboat Wharf,” had been constructed, large enough to transport horse carriages from landing ships.  The West wing of the Hotel was also completed with a bar that was detached from the house, and offered the best Wines and Liquors.
By 1839, the hotel added new growth to its complex.  The main living quarters had originally provided for 50 families.  
     In 1845 and 1846, Horace Ward, who operated the Verandah Hotel in New Orleans, closed it during the summer season months of May to September, and moved his whole staff of hotel personnel to the Pass to offer “sea bathing, fishing, sailing, shooting, riding and romantic walks, together with archery, dancing, billiards, tenpins and excellent dining.”
In the middle 1840s, Pass Christian had only one street – but it was four miles long.

     Later additions included a main dining room, a ballroom, a billiard room, a bowling alley, stables, and bathing houses. The hotel began to take shape, it consisted of a center section with a wing on each end with a wide front gallery.
     The two-story building appeared as three sides of a square, the wings extending from the main building toward the Gulf.  The main building had various parlors on the first floor and lodging rooms in the upper stories.  On the west was a 300-foot-long building that could house up to 300 bachelors, called a “Texas.”  To the rear, were the grand dining salon and the billiard room.
     The hotel became the main stopping place for travelers because it was located only a short distance from the boat landing.  To the rear, was built a "Texas," so named for its use as a bachelor's guest house similar to those provided in Texas which accommodated hard-drinking, male desperados who stayed up all night gambling and being rowdy.
     A zenith of the hotel's success was during the period 1847 to 1855, when Robert H. Montgomery and his wife, Allison, owned and operated the then famous hotel.  (The Montgomery's purchased the property following the death of Charles Shipman in 1849.)
      In 1848, a reception and grand-ball were 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 shell mound in the live oak grove near the hotel.  
     The hotel became the main stopping place for travelers because it was located only a short distance from the boat landing.  To the rear, was built a "Texas," so named for its use as a bachelor's guest house similar to those provided in Texas which accommodated hard-drinking, male desperados who stayed up all night gambling and being rowdy.
     A zenith of the hotel's success was during the period 1847 to 1855, when Robert H. Montgomery and his wife, Allison, owned and operated the then famous hotel.  (The Montgomery's purchased the property following the death of Charles Shipman in 1849.)
      In 1848, a reception and grand-ball were given in honor of General Zachary Taylor, the Mexican War hero who was elected President of the United States 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 shell mound in the live oak grove near the hotel.  
     Although officially known as the Pass Christian Hotel, it also took the name of “Montgomery's,” for its affable manager R.H. Montgomery who was regarded as the “Prince of Inn Keepers.”
      In 1849, Montgomery announced the first Racing Regatta on the Coast.  It brought to life the Southern Regatta Club.  Pass Christian became the birthplace of the second oldest Yacht Club in the Nation, with New York being the first.  Following its founding, it was eventually moved to New Orleans and renamed the Southern Yacht Club.  The early Pass Yacht Club became a racing Mecca for sailing enthusiasts.  Voyages at sunset or by moonlight along the magnificent coastline, or to the nearby islands, created a constant parade of billowing sails.
     The hotel also announced an academy for girls and boys in connection with the hotel – also accommodated by House Physicians for those in poor health and needing special curative benefits.
       Montgomery was a grand promoter.  Every weekend, entertainment was scheduled with grand balls, afternoon teas, and entertainment provided by local and imported dance bands.  For many years, it was the main stopping place.  Commencing with 1853, the hotel remained open all year long with summer guests from New Orleans and Winter guests from Northern states.  Hotel guests were entertained by attending gala balls, musical diversions, moonlight sailboat rides, beach parties, and carriage drives through the piney woods.  Seafood and Creole dishes were prepared regularly in addition to specialty recipes brought in from visiting tourists from Europe.  With the Pass Christian Hotel as its focal point, cottages were being built extending out, East and West, along the shoreline.  For this reason, historians report that Pass Christian wasn't a town with a Hotel, but a Hotel which possessed a Town.  
     Following Montgomery's successes and failures, the hotel was sold to Cuthbert and Eliza Bullit who continued leasing the hotel to a string of management proprietors until it was finally forced to close down in 1861, with the onset of the Civil War.  
     During this period, John McDonnell, returned to operate the Pass Christian Hotel from 1857 to 1861.  He was considered a top hotelier, a celebrity among the bon vivants of New Orleans


Pass Christian College

     The Hotel closed in 1861 with the onset of the Civil War, until 1865, when the hotel complex was purchased by the Christian Brothers under the auspices of St Mary's College of New Orleans.  It was opened as a foremost Catholic Boy's College known as (St. Mary’s) Pass Christian College enrolling its students 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, ten of the Brothers died resulting in hampering the schools success.  The Parish pastor, Father Georget, spent his life's savings attempting to keep the Christian Brother’s school open, however it finally closed in 1875.
     The College was purchased and reopened as a Hotel only to burn down in 1877.  Today, this is the site of the Miramar Nursing Lodge.

Special Note:  The only representation of the hotel complex is a pen and ink sketch of the College which includes the bell-tower installed by Father Isaiah.  This rendition can be found on samples of the College stationary and on song sheets.  Without the bell-tower the building would have been the likeness of the Pass Christian Hotel.  
     “Pass Christian College, 1866-1875: The Christian Brothers on the Gulf Coast,” by Brother Justin Lucian, is available for purchase by writing: 2455 Avery St., Memphis, TN 38112.


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