The corner at Court Street and South Beach in Bay St. Louis is an example of change but also of how Bay St. Louis believed in keeping alive its Old Town charm. |
A large hotel, the Pickwick, was built there in the 19th century primarily as a destination for New Orleanians - just 56 minutes away by train, explains Hancock County historian Charles Gray. He says Court Street was originally the carriage driveway for the hotel that burned in 1927.
The next chapter came in the 1930s when Eddie "Uncle Ed" Arceneaux put a full-service gas station at the site, 200 South Beach.
"For 41˝ years that site meant smiling, good service for your automobile," said Eddie's son André Arceneaux, who lives in Lafayette, La. "Dad put seven kids through college making a living there."
Little did Arceneaux realize his Shell station would claim a tiny spot of movie history. When Natalie Wood filmed part of Paramount's "This Property is Condemned" in the Bay, the actress parked her car under the shade of a tree there.
"Dad sold the station in 1970 to a guy who changed it into the pizza parlor," Arceneaux said.
The Katrina-struck building cannot be part of the Old Town revitalization, but a new chapter will be written on the property where Natalie Wood once parked.
- KAT BERGERON