“A must stop on the blues trail”
In 1894 a group of African American residents, from the Bay St. Louis area, drew up the bylaws for the benevolent association to be named The One Hundred Men Debating Benevolent Association. The group was a social organization whose primary purpose was to “assist its members when sick, bury its dead in a respectable manner and knit friendship.” Despite the one hundred member name, the organization was originally founded by twelve members and the charter stipulated that “the association may from time to time give entertainments for the purpose of replenishing the treasury.” Local resident, Louise Nash, whose father Joseph Curry was a member of the organization, still possesses an original amended copy of the bylaws from 1923. Mrs. Nash, along with her son, Andrew – who serves on the board of directors for the hall – contributed much of what is known of the history of the Hundred Members organization. In 1922, the One Hundred Members DBA constructed an open air, screened meeting hall at 303 Union Street in Bay St. Louis. The “pavilion” as it came to be referred to by locals, was later completely enclosed and, along with the local churches, became the center of the African American social scene in Bay St. Louis. Events and fundraisers of all types from plays and pageants to wedding receptions and dances took place at the hall. Over the years the hall came to be known as the One Hundred Men Hall. During the 1940′s, 50′s and 60′s, many of the region’s greatest blues, rhythm and blues and soul music artists performed at The One Hundred Men Hall. This hall was a regular stop for many of the artists working on the famed “chitlin’ circuit”, a network of African American venues with many of the performers booked through New Orleans’s famed Dew Drop Inn. Many of the greatest stars during the heyday of New Orlean’s rhythm and blues music performed regularly at the hall. From Big Joe Turner, Etta James and Guitar Slim to James Booker, Professor Longhair and Deacon John, the list was a verible who’s who of musical stars at the time. Many longtime coast performers such as Harry Fairconnetue, George Woods and The Sounds of Soul, Carl Gates and The Decks, The Claudettes and Guitar Bo and Miss Dee all regularly performed at this venue.
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100 Men Hall
- Mon - Sat: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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