When asked to assist in finding a family name or some no longer existing building or landmark, I usually respond first by searching through my computer database which has become somewhat extensive. If I find nothing, I state so, but if the project peaks my interest, I may endeavor further research as in a recent request by a granddaughter of James G. Fayard.
The only knowledge that the family had was a photo of the "Fayard Hotel" in Bay St. Louis, owned by their grandfather. In search of Fayards, I did not find one that matched his income or time of existence. In examining the physical structure of the photograph, it appeared rectangular with its foundation laid out on a triangular lot having streets on each side of the building and a church steeple in view a short distance away.
I decided to further my discovery, by researching the microfilm copies of Sanborn Maps at the Hancock Main Library. I searched the maps for the periods of 1893, 1898, 1904, 1909, etc. The search was successful. I found a rectangular shape on a triangular lot at the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Keller Street. In 1904, it was shown as the Gilmore Hotel – In 1909, it was shown as Bancard's Hotel – and in 1924, as a saloon and boarding house.
The Fayard family happily confirmed the location because their grandfather's middle name was Gilmore, as was the hotel so named in 1904.
Sanborn Maps in microfilm can also be found at Harrison County Libraries at Gulfport and Biloxi. However, the problem with the microfilm copies is that they are fuzzy and blurred, creating a printout with black background. To overcome this, it helps to have a computer with software to create reverse negatives and to brighten and sharpen the images.
In the newer digital electronic form, Sanborn Maps take on much improved value over microfilm versions of the same maps, allowing greater flexibility of use and improved viewing. Users have the ability to easily manipulate the maps, magnify and zoom in on specific sections, and layer maps from different years. However, ProQuest Information and Learning, the supplier that provides Digital Sanborn Maps for the period 1867-1970, makes it quite expensive even to academic and public libraries.
The Sanborn map collection consists of a uniform series of large-scale maps, dating from 1867 to the present and depicting the commercial, industrial, and residential sections of some twelve thousand cities and towns in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The maps also indicate widths and names of streets, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers.
Listed here in the right panel are Sanborn Maps copied from the Gulfport Library archives of Pass Christian showing primarily Beach Boulevard as it appeared in 1924 and 1930.
Below is a 1920 aerial map showing the Pass Christian Oyster Factory and shoreline.
The Front Road, or Beach Boulevard, or Scenic Drive, as currently designated in some areas, was first a trail along the shoreline ridge which was used as a cow path having a composition of sand. With housing and business development, the trail was covered with saw dust and later with shells that were carted in from Dimitry Point on the north side of Bayou Portage and from an area north of the Bay of St. Louis, now Dupont which was called "Shelly" for the large Indian shell mounds found there. When the canneries started in business, the shucked oyster shells were then used, and sometime in the early 1900s, it was paved with warrenite preparation.
Quoting below from "Along the Coast," as written in 1895:
"There is every reason in the world why this place should enjoy the popularity it does in the estimation of summer and winter visitors, for be it known that the Pass, probably more than any other resort along the Gulf, excepting perchance Biloxi, has two distinct reasons when visitors flock to its beautiful shores. There is only one apparent reason for this and that is, that it has been more extensively advertised throughout the North. Pass Christian is one of the most popular resorts in this section for the wealthy and society people of New Orleans, during the summer months. Many of these people own palatial residences along the water front, which extends for some six miles. Within the past few years many Northern and Western people of wealth have purchased residences at "the Pass," with the idea of having permanent winter houses in this delightful, garden spot. Beautiful buildings go a long ways to make a town attractive but even more than this, is the attractiveness of the beautifully laid out lawns and grounds surrounding many of the mansions."