Music and society history saved in 100 Men Hall

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WGNO)- If the walls of the hall could talk they would sing the melodies of a bygone era, they would also speak of being the center of the blues in Bay St. Louis.

If the walls of the hall could talk they would tell of disrepair and of then being the home of a bingo hall and screen door company, and if the walls of the hall could thank anyone, they would thank the Loyas.  Renovators Kerrie and Jessie Loya for bringing the 100 Men Hall back to life.

For part time musician Jessie Loya it was simple, "It was a dance hall, and I thought it was groovy that it was a dance hall, that was pretty much it. And I love old buildings"

What the Loyas didn't know was the significance of the building they saved from demolition.  It was the 100 Men Hall.  Established in 1922 by a group of African American Bay St. Louis residents, and it was also one of the most significant stops for artists touring the south in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

While renovating, Loya says, "People would come up to the steps, walk in and look around and go 'Wow this place is still standing'. Then they'd start going into what used to happen here, The parties that used to happen here, and eventually they started talking about who used to play here, Archie Bell and the Drells, Isley Brothers, Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner."

The Loyas obtained the building after Hurricane Katrina.  There was a call before demo order and Jessie did just that, pleading not to tear the building down.  Eventually they found out that the 100 Men D.B.A. Hall non-profit was still in good standing with the State of Mississippi, since 1894.

They developed a board to map out a strategy and brought this gem to life in Bay St. Louis.

"The 100 Men Hall is unique in that it's really one of the few buildings that are on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Most of the of the markers are just kinda out in the middle of a field, or on a corner where a building once stood," says Kerrie Loya.

The Loyas are proud to have been able to return this gift to the Gulf Coast.