MISSION STATEMENT: The 100 Men D.B.A. was established as a charitable organization to preserve and promote the rich cultural and musical history of the founding members and their venue, The 100 Men Hall. We seek to educate and entertain the community at large as well as increase cultural and historical tourism to Bay St. Louis and The Gulf Coast.
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.
This local landmark was purchased by the DAV and remodeled as a bingo hall in the mid – 1980’s and changed hands again in 2004. In 2005, the building was rescued from demolition following Hurricane Katrina by Jesse and Kerrie Loya, who lovingly restored the hall to its original state with the help of a generous grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
This treasured local landmark has at last been recognized for its true role on the Mississippi Blues Trail scene. On Friday June 17th, the One Hundred Men DBA Hall was officially added to the Mississippi Blues Trail when an historical marker was dedicated at the hall on Union Street. The Mississippi Blues Trail Markers tell stories through words and images of bluesmen and women, their times and their music, and how the places where they lived and the times in which they existed – and continue to exist – influenced their music. The sites run the gamut from city streets to cotton fields, train depots to cemeteries, and clubs to churches.
Hundreds turned out for the ceremony unveiling the marker on Friday. Speakers included Mississippi Arts Commission chairman, Malcolm White and Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame. New Orleans bandleader Deacon John Moore reflected on his memories of the hall and the musical acts who performed there. Moore, along with his band “The Ivories” continues to be an icon on the New Orleans music scene to this day.
After the unveiling of the marker, a free concert was presented featuring the Homemade Jamz Blues Band, a nationally famous blues act from the Mississippi Delta.
The marker event was sponsored by the One Hundred Men Hall, Hancock Community Development Foundation, MS West Coast/Hancock County Tourism & Development, Silver Slipper Casino, Bay St. Louis Depot District Association, and the Mississippi Blues Trail Organization .
The 100 Men DBA Hall is sponsored by The Silver Slipper Casino.