The Pine Hills Hotel
During the mid to late 1920s, the Pine Hills Hotel and Golf Club was situated on a fine tract of land on the north shore of the Bay of St. Louis, between the mouths of the Jourdan River and the Wolf River. The area just northeast of DeLisle was called Shell Beach and sometimes “Shelly” for the large mound of clam shells that had been accumulated by Indians during times past.
The hotel development was initially called Shell-Beach-on-the-Bay, which first started as a greatly needed gulf club resort. By invitation of C.W. Gormley, one of the lead promoters at a luncheon, distinguished visitors were shown over the place where they could see first hand, the extensive developments that had taken place during that year. The golf course was acclaimed as one of the best planned in the country, with a club house under construction, and yet to be constructed was the hotel on the attractive setting north of the Bay.
With no bridge access across the Bay of St. Louis, in 1923, the Kiln-DeLisle Road was the only way for tourists to get back and forth between New Orleans and Biloxi. The matter of building a bridge across the Bay of St. Louis, was brought up and there seemed to be a unanimous favoring for the structure to strike the north side of the bay at Shell Beach rather than at Henderson's Point. It was discussed that the location of the bridge at the far north end of the Bay would make such a structure immune from the destructive elements of wind and storm. And, secondly, that such a bridge should not be built too, close to the railroad bridge. It was further stated that Shell-Beach-on-the-Bay was isolated and was cut off from the outside world, therefore such an enterprise would be one of the biggest revenue producers and become one of the County's heaviest taxpayers.
Therefore, in 1925, construction was begun to establish the grandiose hotel. Crews were brought in to fill the swamps, build roads, and to slope the sand beach. The project was promoted by Northern monied interests and a group of Louisianians and Mississippians who took interest in the hotel development as a sportsman's rendezvous.
When the project was merged into the Bowman-Biltmore Hotel chain, the name was changed to Pine Hills Hotel Resort and Golf Club. The property comprised of a $1,250,000 hotel complex with 2,400 acres of adjoining land and varied recreational facilities, including a sporty 18-hole golf course. The hotel's furnishings were considered the height of luxury and beauty. It was situated in the center of an estate containing more than 2000 acres and with even more acreage under lease for duck shooting. It was hard to find better quail in the South than in the open lands of southern Mississippi. Other game was found there too, doves, turkey, squirrel, etc. The Pine Hills Club had secured rights to even more thousands of acres of available land in their planning to establish a great game preserve.
In November 1926, the Pine Hills Hotel resort was nearing completion. The hotel covered 62 acres with 1,500 feet of bay frontage, and was considered an architectural gem. It contained 186 rooms that were arranged in suites to accommodate family groups, in addition, other amenities included a dining room, spacious kitchen, convention halls, recreation rooms, elevators, tennis courts, hand ball courts, a trap shooting range, and a small boat marina with a fishing pier.
On the club grounds, kennels were maintained where 60 of the best hunting dogs in the South had been housed under the eye of skilled trainers.
There was a Club House that also provided horseback riding. Its stables contained a number of select mounts that followed beautiful bridle paths throughout that part of the piney hills Coast.
The 18-hole golf course was recognized as one of the most interesting and one of the most sporty on the Gulf coast. The Golf Club House was constructed with great logs, which attracted many professionals as well as amateurs.
Boating was promoted all year long and fishermen from the area touted 589 different varieties of fish to be found in the Bay waters.
By January 1927, one month after its formal opening, the hotel was filled with tourists from all over the United States.
However, once the wooden bridge was completed from Bay St. Louis to Henderson Point, in 1928, the end of another hotel took place – and with the Depression of the ‘30s, the doors were sealed shut.
With the need for coastal defenses and training, the hotel having been vacant for more than a decade, was taken over by the U.S. Army during the early to mid-1940s.
Present day access to the old hotel site area can be made by way of the Kiln-DeLisle Road adjoining the Dupont Plant entrance south of Interstate 10
Having lain dormant and vacant once again for a number of years, the old Pine Hills Hotel seemed like an ideal location for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Religious Order to establish a major Seminary. Even though the priests and brothers were all from the Mid-west, they purchased the hotel and grounds in 1953 and officially opened Our Lady of Snows Scholasticate (popularly known as the Pine Hills Seminary).
The first clergymen arrived in mid-year to take on the mammoth job of cleaning and conversion of the hotel to a seminary. The first ordinations of priests took place in 1955 and they finally closed down in 1968.
And still another Conversion
During the Summer of 1973, the Dupont site planning team decided to effect feasibility studies in the area of Pass Christian to establish a plant facility which would produce titanium dioxide. Land options were made in the Bay area, five miles north of Pass Christian between the old Pine Hills Hotel and the DeLisle community. The plant was initially expected to be constructed over a 30-month period and to be completed in 1977.
In January 1984, Du Pont finalized a purchase of the 25-acre Pine Hills Hotel property in addition to the surrounding area bringing an 80-acre increase to the original 2200-acre complex. The hotel was razed and the golf course site has been primarily utilized as the Du Pont Employees Recreation Area.