Soul Of America




Major Beaches with Soul

Mississippi Gulf Coast


Churches/Historic Sites


1. Biloxi Lighthouse & Loop
In 1960, African Americans conducted a "Wade-in" to challenge Hancock County laws that restricted access to the beach for African Americans; many were arrested, but eventually the movement was successful; the Loop just east of the Biloxi Lighthouse; E Beach Blvd (Highway 90)

2. Our Mother of Sorrows
Built in 1914, oldest Catholic church in Biloxi where African Americans could attend mass; daily mass services; 803 Division Street; 228-436-6503

3. Pleasant Reed House
Built in 1887, by Pleasant Reed, who moved to Biloxi after the Civil War; it is notable for the "Shotgun House" style; which later became the dominant housing style for African Americans in the region; 928 Elmer Street

Bay St. Louis

1. St. Augustine Catholic Church and Seminary
Built in 1922, St. Augustine Catholic Church and Seminary is the first Roman Catholic seminary in the U.S. established specifically to train Blacks for the priesthood, and the oldest existing Catholic seminary in Mississippi. Primarily used today for retreats, family reunions, seminars, and the like, the 45-acre property encompasses the chapel; Marian and Agony Grotto, built by a Black bricklayer -- Thaddeus S. Boucree -- where he depicted several scenes from the Bible with natural elements; and Retreat and Retirement Centers; 228-467-6414

2. St. Rose de Lima Catholic Church
St. Rose de Lima Catholic Church was founded by German priests desiring an African American church here. Renowned for its magnificent mural depicting an African American image of Christ -- his waist clad in an African cloth -- it was built in 1924 by the Black Order of Priests as part of an educational citadel for Blacks in Bay St. Louis in the 1940's. Today it is the second oldest church in Bay St. Louis. A one-year project begun in 1995, the mural was not initially planned to project a Black image. Instead, it is the result of the artist's use of several different people as models, incorporating their particular body types, skin tones, facial features, and hair textures. The limbs and leaves of the tree behind Christ extend around the side-walls of the pulpit, encompassing the names of the church family benefactors. Very poignant, the mural is one of several beautiful characteristics of the church including two original stained glass windows, the alter, tabernacle stand, and water and wine table made from driftwood and/or parts of trees from the area. In addition to the church, St. Rose also had a school that operated from 1925-1968 (the high school component closed in '60 due to integration), reopening again a short time after Hurricane Camille; today it holds a mixed student population; 228-467-7347

3. Valenica C. Jones United Methodist Church
The church was founded in 1880 and formerly named St Paul Methodist Episcopal Church; though the church was established for European Americans, it had to respond to increasing numbers of its congregation who were African American; records indicated that in the late 1800s; the church obtained a Bishop Robert E Jones, whose wife was Valencia and a native of Bay St Louis; Valencia was a well respected Black educator in Bay St Louis and New Orleans; after she died in 1917, members of the church decided to name the new church edifice in her honor in 1922; listed on the National Register of Historic Places; 246 Sycamore Street


1. St. Theresa Catholic Church
Built 1932, it is the mother Catholic church of Gulfport for African Americans; includes a school, rectory, and convent; special events are held throughout the year; 3521 19th Street; 228-863-6194

2. ILA Hall
Constructed in 1933 and headquarters for the International Longshoremen's Association 1303; many negotiations took place here which determined the wages of the highest paid Black workers in the region as Longshoremen during segregation; 2223 29th Ave; 228-863-5144

3. Taylor Harris Drug Store
Since 1926, it was the first pharmacy in the region to service the Black community; much more than a drug store it also provided space for a physician and dentist to treat out-patients; 1908 30th Ave; 228-868-1036

4. St Paul AME Church
Oldest AME congregation in the region; Sunday worship 11a; 3208 21st Street; 228-863-5851

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