Lost to Katrina: Elmwood Manor, Bay St. Louis (1812-2005)




From the National Register summary (1986)

One of the earliest, extant buildings in Bay St. Louis, Elmwood Manor is a significant example of the French Colonial style of architecture in the community. No other buildings remaining from the early 19th century are as architecturally intact as this house.

It is believed that the construction of the house was begun before 1812, but was not completed until 1828. One significant feature of the house is the infrastructure of the roof which is an important example of early 19th century timber frame construction with its large beams held together by wooden pegs.

Louis Alexis Lassassier acquired this property through a Spanish land grant. The land passed into the possession of his widow, Melite Macarty Lassassier, in 1823, and she sold it to Jesse Cowand in 1826-1829. Cowand died in 1852 and his widow, Elizabeth, resided at Elmwood Manor until the Civil War.

From an undated article (Sea Coast Echo?) by Fred Wagner, local architect (c.1970?)

This beach front home is without a doubt the most important example of historic architecture in Hancock County. It is probably the only structure of national significance standing in our community. This house is reputed to date from 1803 and that date is probable. The structure is basically Federal in style but with a strong influence of the Caribbean reflected in its galleries. (Originally the rear of the house had an open gallery matching the front. The rear one story wing is an unfortunate 20th Century addition). The excellent brickwork, the fine joinery, the steep roof, and the inordinately handsome dormers all testify to sensitive design and the most careful selection of materials and workmanship. Fine hardware and delicate moulded plaster cornices and mantels all speak of one of the finest and most sophisticated structures ever built here. The original roof was wood shingle and the brick left unpainted until the 20th Century.

Elmwood Manor was completely washed away by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005.


This post is the 2nd in the week-long Katrina’s Lost Landmarks series. Read other posts in the series:

See also Katrina Survivors series:

Related Links

The Hancock County Historical Society is the best organized historical society I’ve ever known. Check out their building-by-building documentation of their historic buildings, including Elmwood Manor online at http://www.hancockcountyhistoricalsociety.com/preservation/nationalregister.htm

Categories: Bay St. Louis, Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Gulf Coast, Historic Preservation, Hurricane Katrina, Lost Mississippi

11 replies



  2. My grandfather, James Richards, was E.V. Richards younger brother. E.V. was part of the start-up of the Saenger Theater chains, including the one on Canal Street in New Orleans and all the original Saengers along the coast and, I believe, first originating in Shreveport. My mother tells the story of going to Elmwood Manor in her childhood to visit E.V. at his “summer home.” My mother is now 81 and doesn’t remember if E.V. Richards actually owned Elmwood or if it was a Saenger Company owned property and my grandfather’s brother just had the use of it or if he owned it. My mother was born in 1935 so somewhere during the first 15 years of her childhood (1935-1950-ish) she would have stayed there during summer vacations.
    Can you clarify whether E.V. Richards owned the property or if he just had use of it?
    I know that part of E.V.’s moving picture company was sold to Warner Brothers and he was friends with Cecil B Demille. When my mother’s brother died as a child, she was sent to spend a week with Charleton Heston and Yule Brenner in Hollywood through her uncle E.V.’s connection.
    Ironically, two years ago, I moved to Bay Saint Louis to write a book and, while it is being written as fiction, the research for it brings me to this question. I’m thinking my great-uncle is guiding me towards family history.
    Can you help me or send me to a source for early Elmwood Manor ownership?
    Thank you for any information you can give me.


    • A good starting place might be to contact the Hancock County Historical Society. As Malvaney mentions in the post above they are one of best organized historical societies.

      If they do not have this information they would be best able to point you towards a source that might.



      • Thank you, Thomas Rossell!!


        “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

        – Winston Churchill



    • Hello, I am Loretta Richards Royal. I am the first grandchild of EV Richards and spent much time at Elmwood Manor and in fact lived there as a child. Also, spent much time with my grandfather and have many recollections of his many homes and yachts! I have old photos ( if they are still good) of my brother EV4, at Elmwood. I would love to get in touch with you. If you could message me at Auntlo@msn.com and I can certainly fill you in on some family history.


    • My grandfather was E.V.Richards and you are correct regarding the Saenger Theater chains which he started with Julian Saenger. I have all the information regarding this. However, I am replying regarding Elmwood Manor, a place I lived in for a while and even went to some small kindergarten there. Have many recollections of the place and can give you what further information you would like regarding that and E.V. as I am the oldest grandchild and spent lots of time with him there an other places as well. Feel free to contact me as I will be happy to speak with you about it. Will leave my e mail and since we are related I would be even more interested in discussing any family history.


    • Did you finish your book? I would love to read it!


    • Did you finish your book? I would love to read it!


  3. Regarding this web site and the photos of Elmwood Manor, that is absolutely not the way it looked when I lived there and I remember going by there many years later and regretting what the owners had done to a beautiful old house by trying to look so modern.


  4. Elmwood Plantation was bult in the mid to late 1820’s and completed in 1830 by Jesse Cowand who moved from Viginia in the early 1800’s. He worked in New Orleans in a cooperage business and fought in the Battle of New Orleans.


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