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An Indian tribe made use of the land and the nearby water to harvest oysters. A huge mound of oyster shells 300 feet long by 60 feet tall was the result. The Indians also used the land for various burial mounds

    " William   Alexander Whitfield, who built Shelly was born in North Carolina in 1817 In 1841 he married Charity Helen Jones, and the couple   moved to Hancock County. Mississippi, four years later. At first they managed the Bay Place which belonged to Benjamin  Whitfield.  Then around 1850 they  bought the Shell Bank Plantation and built the home they   called Shelly, because it stood on a high shell bank that extended out in the Bay.  

     The Whitfields operated this plantation with the help of   slaves  until after the Civil War.  A beautiful penthouse garden rested on Shelly's  cement roof.   The flowers were watered by an arterial well south of the house. And on the plantation, which was level for 500 feet back from the Bay, there were 5000 orange trees, 400 Japanese persimmon trees, 150 scuppernong and other grape vines and 150 varieties of roses. The Whitfields sold fruit as far as New Orleans. 

     People came from all around to visit and admire Shelly. The house was exquisitely furnished. The silver goblets and mugs had the children's names engraved on them and some are still in use.  The organ that Mrs. Whitfield   brought in an ox cart from North Carolina to the Coast is in that home of her granddaughter. Yolanda Whitfield in Lafayette Louisiana. 

     Mr. Whitfield was a graduate of the Law School of Chapel Hill,
North Carolina. It is said he never did a bit of manual labor in his life. He enjoyed his flowers and permitted nothing to worry him. Some of his children. however, were very energetic. Of his sons, Alston because a physician. Blanchard a. school teacher and photographer, and Lolause a successful artist.  His oldest daughter Rosabelle died at Shelly. He Imported a marble angel from Italy and placed it at her grave. Mrs. Whitfield, another daughter Irene, and several slaves were also buried at Shelly --- but the grave markings, disappeared after the Whitfields moved away. Around the turn of the century the Gulfport and Mississippi Traction Company   planned, but failed, to extend the Coast electric line from Mobile to New Orleans. This line was to skirt Bay St. Louis as no other railroad could build a bridge within a mile and a half of the L&N bridge across the Bay. The line was to go through the Shell Bank plantation then owned by northern capitalist.

     This group of capitalists owned 26,000 acres in one hunk and originally planned to establish a Chautauqua ground there. According to newspaper clippings, no year given, sawmills were to be brought in to cut out the timber and the cut over land was to be made into truck gardens, Canning factories were to be established for the vegetables in the summer and the products of the sea in the winter.

     But the electric line failed to materialize, so did the canning factories. And the later highly publicized hotel failed when the road left it.

     What happened to Shelly itself? We don’t know exactly. All we can do is refer to the same above newspaper clipping which stated that “after the plantation was abandon by the owners, the New Orleans  schooners went there and carried away ton after ton of its shells because there was no one to say they couldn’t or shouldn’t.”

Article written by Ray Thompson 1962

 

Peering Into The Past of PineHills
Article about the Plantation and the Hotel.

Pre-Construction

Hotel Days
.

Monastery Days

Photos

Floor Plans
.

Memorabilia