A Victorian Gazebo for the Pass
by Dan Ellis
What a more delightful location -- but to have placed a Victorian Gazebo at the War Memorial Park overlooking the Mississippi Sound and the celebrated Scenic Drive.
This historic site is part of the land grant deeded by the Widow Asmar in 1799, to her trusted, freed slave, Charles (Charlot). Before his death in 1835, he sold a small portion of his vast acreage to Widow Simon Cucullu. While visiting the Pass, Francisco Fleitas, Sr. became enamored with the widow's daughter, Marie Modeste Dorothia Cuccullu who soon after married her Spanish "conquistador". Their beautiful palatial home and gardens graced the wonderful promenade of Live Oaks which are still symmetrically spreading a welcome shade with enveloping shadows. Also, in residence, during those bygone days, were exotic peacocks spreading their feathered plumage in splendor with beautiful arrays of color.
The Gazebo took its shape in 1983, when it was sponsored by the "Ladies of the Harbor Shop". The architectural design was a donated rendering by Dale Thompson who conceived the octagonally shaped structure with a diameter of 24 feet which extended upward 12 feet above the raised floor to its roofline.
The Harbor Shop, a non-profit organization chartered in 1955, was located in the Exchange Building at 203 E. Scenic Drive. The volunteer ladies sold consigned antiques and crafts as its major fundraiser and allocated its proceeds to various community benefits. Unfortunately, after 40 years, the Harbor Shop of Pass Christian passed out of existence in 1995, but its generosity to the needy and its community promotions, continues on as the Gazebo keeps its stately posture at the Park.
The Gazebo project was estimated to cost $7000.00. Under the leadership of its president, Mrs. Mary Fitzpatrick, the "Ladies of the Harbor Shop" donated the first $4000.00, with the remaining $3000.00 derived from individuals and civic organizations such as: the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, V.F.W. Post 5931 and its Ladies Auxiliary, the Beta Sigma Phi -- Xi Theta Chapter, the Henderson Point - Pass Christian Isles Civic Association, St. Paul's Catholic Church, and the Art Association. Service and product contributions were generously given by local businesses, such as: Hancock Bank, L&B Enterprises, Coast Wholesale Supply, Coast Cable T.V., Dale Thompson for design, Edward Reid for electrical, Tom's Welding Service, Frank Pierson & Son's for brickwork, Isaiah Johnson for Cement finishing, Bourdin Brothers for plumbing, and Jake Bell for sand. Landscaping was provided by Bob Doe and the Pass Christian Garden Club.
The actual construction was also a labor of love offered by Jean and Lee Stanbro, and the initial idea was a dream come true by Coral Trepagnier, who envisioned a beautiful, restful place to gaze out upon the sunsets and from where musicians, artists, and oratory and theatrics could perform and reach out to community residents and visitors.
The Gazebo was dedicated by the Ladies of the Harbor Shop and City leaders led by Mayor Gordon Bishop on Sunday, May 6, 1984.
The Pass Christian Gazebo has become the "Hallmark of the Pass" as seen on City Hall stationary, the Mayor's business card, Christmas in the Pass placards, Pass Merchant's tourist brochures, and photographed frequently for news articles about the Pass. Famed, local artist, Tazewell Morton, sketched its replica in 1990, as his offering to the City. It took the initiative of a few ladies to open their organization's savings to start an avalanche of support from other responsive organizations, businesses and individuals. Without such wonderful volunteerism and the spirit of community giving, there would be no Gazebo in the Pass.
The Gazebo has been able to withstand hurricanes, vandalism and aging deterioration because of the extended efforts put forth by its expediter, Beverly Jeanne Stanbro, who had visited three cities to study good features as well as faulty aspects of public gazebos. Coral Trepagnier’s photograph clipping of a Dallas gazebo was given to Beverly Jeanne as a guide in her research quest that resulted in a design sketch that was approved by the Ladies of the Harbor Shop.
L&B Enterprises, Lee and Beverly Stanbro's construction company, was awarded the contract. During its construction, a substantial foundation was prepared to withstand hurricane winds that at most would simply call for replacing the lost wooden structure. Therefore, the design of the gazebo, with its double ceilings and spindle siding is credited to exemplary research. For many years, Lee and Beverly Jeanne Stanbro maintained the sturdy structure by simply replacing kicked out spindles which are kept in supply. For on-going maintenance, a fund is kept at the Hancock Bank in the name of Friends of the Gazebo.
The Park provides a wonderful venue for annual events
Under the Oaks facing the Mississippi Beaches
Above photos from Al Hooks Heritage Collection