By LISA MONTI
The 100 Men Hall is up for sale. The historic music venue built in 1922 in Bay St. Louis is where Etta James, Ike and Tina Turner and many others have performed.
The building was put on the market a couple of weeks ago and has a sale price of $699,000. It has 4,500 square feet, two bedrooms and three bathrooms. John McDonald Realty is handling the sale. The property is listed as a featured property on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website.
The 100 Men Debating Benevolent Association was formed in 1894 to help members “when sick, bury its dead in a respectable manner and knit friendship.”
The hall was a community gathering place that evolved into a ‘chitlin’ circuit’ venue back in the 1940s and continued into the 1960s.
Owners Kerrie and Jesse Loya, who restored the historic building at 303 Union St. after Hurricane Katrina, say they are ready to move on after more than a decade. Kerrie handles the marketing and Jesse Loya heads The House Katz band.
“We’re so proud of what Bay St. Louis has accomplished after Katrina,” said Kerrie Loya. “We love it here but it’s time for us to tackle whatever the next challenge is that awaits.”
The Loyas, who worked in the entertainment business in California before moving to Bay St. Louis, saved the building from being demolished after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and restored it with a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. It is now part of the Mississippi Blues Trail.
100 Men Hall has regularly hosted live musical performances to coincide with Second Saturday Art Walks, New Year’s Eve celebrations and even weddings.
Kerrie Loya, a self described gypsy at heart, said, “When we moved here 11 years ago, I never thought we’d stay for so long. Our original plan was really to stay for three or four years and move on.”
There has already been some interest in the building, which the Loyas and their two small children have called home.
“We’ve gotten some bites,” Kerrie Loya said. The ideal new owner will bring opportunities for 100 Men Hall. She hopes the venue will “have a more prominent place on the national and international stage. There aren’t a lot of buildings like this left. We hope it’s positive for the non profit 100 Men Hall Foundation, the town and us. I think it’s going to be exciting.”
Loya said the foundation was set up as a free standing entity. “It will still exist in some form,” she said.
Victoria Langlinais, president of the board of 100 Men DBA Hall, said, “I am really looking forward to the future and what it has in store for our organization. The only unknown here is who will own the property once it is sold. The board has been very receptive to the potential change and we embrace that change is good. We have several ideas and options for how we can continue our mission of preserving and promoting the rich cultural and musical history of the 100 Men Hall.”
She said the board is unsure which direction it will take now “but just know that wonderful things will continue to be produced by our amazing Board.”
After the sale, the Loyas plan to move to St. Croix, a Caribbean island with plenty of old structures in need of rehabilitation and lots of “kindred spirits,” Loya said. “It’s going to be an adventure.”
Meanwhile, the foundation is still booking acts. Marcia Ball is set to play at the Hall on Oct. 17 and the John Corbett Band is booked for Oct. 30.