BAY ST LOUIS, MS (WLOX) – Restoration work on the original city hall building in Bay St. Louis is entering the final stages. Katrina heavily damaged the historic building on Second Street.
"This building is the crown jewel of city properties," said Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.
Seeing the 105-year-old building come back to life means a lot in a city with so much history. Some of the most important decisions that helped shape the city's destiny were made there.
In the beginning, the building housed the Mayor's office and Council chambers on the second floor, with the police department and jail on the first floor. Since then, various city departments have called the spot home. After the renovation work is complete, it will serve yet, another purpose.
"The use of this building is going to be predominantly for the Historic Preservation Commission is going to be housed here. Of course, they'll have their meetings here, but in conjunction with that, we're also going to let them act as curators of a small city museum and ultimately a city visitor's stop here also," said Mayor Fillingame.
The building is being restored to its original grandeur. The copula on top, which was destroyed during Hurricane Camille in 1969 is now back.
"In the past years it had gone through some pretty hideous interior renovations and it had never been restored back to its original beauty, and that's what we're doing now. We want it to look like it was just opened in 1905 and we're trying to be as historically complete and as historically accurate as we possibly can."
The work is expected to be finished in late December and ready for its new tenants to move in in January.
The entire restoration project cost about $1.1 million. It was funded through a variety of sources: insurance proceeds from Katrina, FEMA funds and a Community Development Block Grant.
To give you an idea of the inflation rate since 1905, back then the building only cost $10,000 to build.