In 1894, 12 civic-minded African American residents of Bay Saint Louis drew up the bylaws for an organization called the Hundred Members Debating Benevolent Association. The group’s primary purpose was to "assist its members when sick, bury its dead in a respectable manner and knit friendship." From an organizing group sprang an open-air pavilion and then, in 1922, a cornerstone was laid and the existing Hall built. The Hall was dedicated on July 16, 1923.
The 100 Men Hall, as it came to be known, quickly became an energy center for Black life along the Coast, hosting music and any life event that happened in the African American community from baby showers to funerals. Over many decades, the Hall attracted legendary musicians such as Ray Charles, James Brown, Etta James, Sam Cooke, BB King, Chuck Berry, Diamond Joe, Ernie K-Doe, Fats Domino, Lee Dorsey, Professor Longhair and countless other African American musicians on the chitlin circuit, a pearl necklace of venues that hosted musical genius at a time when white-only clubs forbid their entry.
The Hall is one of the rare physical sites still standing on the Mississippi Blues Trail, and is a testament to the rich birthing of American music that unfolded during a history of racial oppression. It is one of the few significant African American landmarks in Mississippi.
1922 - 1982 Benevolent Debating Association owned and operated the 100 Men Hall.
12/21/1982 Benevolent Debating Association DEEDED to Disabled American Veterans and Auxiliary 50.
08/31/2004 Disabled American Veterans and Auxiliary 50 DEEDED TO Diana Smith.
06/01/2006 Diana Smith DEEDED to Tommy Russell.
06/23/2006 Tommy Russell DEEDED to Jesse Loya and Kerri White.
07/272018 Jesse Loya and Kerri White DEEDED to Rachel Dangermond (and her son, Constantin "Tin" Dangermond, a/k/a the 101st Man)
Photographer: Ellis Anderson
The non-profit associated with the Hall still has the original 1894 name, Hundred Members Debating Benevolent Association, and its purpose continues to be as a gathering place for the community. The Hall is a cultural icon in the city of Bay Saint Louis and the Gulf Coast, and is an African American site of important and historical significance.
Under its new ownership, the intention of the Hall will be to provide a bridge to different segments of the population in Bay Saint Louis, the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. The Hall will use the literary, visual and musical arts to tell the story of the Hall and to foster community, as well as support organizations whose mission it is to improve the quality of life for all residents.
Work With Us
The 100 Men Hall was purchased by Rachel Dangermond and her son, Constantin "Tin" Dangermond on July 27, 2018 with the intent to operate it as a nonprofit, music venue, multipurpose hall rental, and community space.
The Hall seats 200-225 ppl with standing room for 400 ppl.
The 100 Men Hall is maintained and preserved by a 501c3 nonprofit called Hundred Members Debating Benevolent Association (1894). The board members are as follows:
For rental or media, please contact Rachel at 100MenHall@gmail.com and cell 415.336.9543.