In Bay St. Louis there is a new Blues Trail Marker! It’s so new no info about the marker is up on the Mississippi Blues Trail website as of this post. But not to fear Preservation in Mississippi’s got ya covered. The marker was dedicated on June 17th, so it still has that fresh marker smell. If you have never seen one of the Blues Trail Markers they are very cool. On one side is the very traditional looking historical marker typeface, while on the other side is a screen print with a lot more information and even photographs!
The marker is located at the 100 Men DBA Hall at 303 Union Street in Bay St. Louis. Although The One Hundred Members Debating and Benevolent Association was founded in 1894 the building was not built until 1922. As the marker best states:
“Despite its name the association was founded by 12 men and the nature of its “debates” appears to be lost to time”
The marker also notes that the 100 Men D.B.A. charter stipulated that:
“the Association may from time to time give entertainments for the purpose of replenishing the treasury”
This is where the site’s association with the Blues comes in. The hall was a stop on the “chitlin circuit” in the 1950′s. Since blacks were not allowed to play in white clubs they had their very own tour route through the South. Performers at the hall included but are not limited to: Etta James, Big Joe Turner, Guitar Slim, Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair, Ernie K-Doe, Deacon John, and Earl King. After Katrina the building was slated to be demolished. Instead, it was bought by Jesse and Kerrie Loya and was restored with a Hurricane Relief Grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
I could type out the whole text on the marker but I’d rather you get out and see it in person!