Front Street Historic District
Circa 1840 and Circa 1890-1910
Pascagoula, Mississippi (Jackson County)
The Front Street Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, was Pascagoula’s first historic district. It encompasses the 2800 and 2900 blocks of Front Street and is located directly east of the Northrop Grumman Shipyards, where the Pascagoula River flows into the Mississippi Sound. Originally, five houses stood in the district, each representing different periods of vernacular design distinctive to the area. Neglect and/or fire took three over the years but the John B. Delmas House and the Charles B. Delmas House have survived.
The John B. Delmas House, built circa 1840 by its namesake, is one of the four oldest surviving buildings in the City of Pascagoula. Delmas, a ship chandler and a pilot, was a direct descendant of Hugo Krebs and the son of Valentine Delmas, one of the earliest settlers in the area. Delmas’s wife was Mary Elizabeth Grant, daughter of Captain John Grant, known as “Father of the Port of Pascagoula.” The house is a two-story wood vernacular frame structure. What looks like an addition to the rear of the home is actually what remains of the original circa 1840 structure. The two-story portion was built around 1872. The primary facade features a full width two-story gallery with simple square columns and molded capitals. The interior was subdivided into apartments but the exterior has not been altered.
John B. Delmas built a home for his son, Charles B. Delmas, directly to the south of his own. The Charles B. Delmas house, built circa 1890-1910, is in slightly better condition and is a two-story vernacular wood frame structure. It also features a full width, two-story gallery on the primary façade. Most elements of the gallery were lost during Hurricane Katrina, including the gallery floor at the second story. The original turned and bracketed posts have been replaced with simple square posts which are currently holding the porch roof in place. Instead of a central entrance, two entrances open onto the porches at both levels. The south entrance at the ground floor was added in the 1940’s when the house was converted into a duplex. The back gallery was also enclosed at that time.
In addition to the highly-significant architectural resources, archaeologists have found evidence of prehistoric environments and subsistence practices throughout the district and have named the site “Singing River.” This important repository of information has, and can contribute to a better understanding of Mississippi prehistory.
Both houses are now vacant, and years of neglect, not to mention Hurricane Katrina, have left them in a deteriorated state. Their location in a waterfront revitalization zone is another concern as developers could demolish the houses. Losing the last two houses of the Front Street Historic District, and an important part of Pascagoula’s history, would be a terrible loss for the community.
2015 Update – Lost
The Pascagoula Historic Preservation Commission diligently tried to work with property owners to save the city’s oldest homes from demolition, but were unsuccessful. The owners filed demolition applications with the city, and both the John B. Delmas and the Charles B. Delmas homes were demolished in December 2014. The home remains an archeological site and developers now own the land. The two homes were the last remaining structures in Pascagoula’s original Front Street Historical District.