In 1847, Fr. Louis Stanislaus Buteux received the deed for the property where the current church and rectory stand.
In 1854, Fr. Buteux established two schools for the youth of the parish. A boys school, St. Stanislaus College, was setup under the administration of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. The girls school, St. Joseph's Academy, was staffed by the sisters of St. Joseph.
In 1907, the original structure of Our Lady of the Gulf Church, rectory, school and convent of the St. Joseph nuns, were completely destroyed by fire. But, by God's grace, in 1908, the cornerstone was laid for the new church that still exists today. In that year, St. Joseph's Academy moved into larger buildings, replacing those destroyed in the fire
Our Lady of the Gulf has indeed been the mother church of all the Catholic Churches that have been established in Hancock County, Mississippi. By 1926, Our Lady of the Gulf was one of the most beautiful churches in the area. The high altar is particularly impressive, built of Italian Carrerra marble. Over the high altar is a dome with a large painting of Mary as Our Lady of the Gulf to whom the church is dedicated. The background is a restful shade of blue, and Mary is robed in a deeper shade of blue and holds in her arms the Christ Child. Angels surround and hover over the pair. In the foreground, sailing ships, like those that first approached these shores in the seventeenth century, ply the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The exquisite stained glass windows, done by Mayer and Company in Munich, Germany, were intended for meditation and for lifting one's spirit.
In 1967, St. Joseph's Academy, after 112 years of Catholic education in the community, closed. But, in 1971, Msgr. Gregory Johnson still saw a need in the parish for a girl's Catholic high school and Our Lady Academy was established. In that same year, the present rectory was built, replacing the wooden structure that was severely damaged by Hurricane Camille in August 1969.
No where is the universality of Catholicism more evident than in the diverse nationalities of the wonderful pastors and associates who have served Our Lady of the Gulf throughout 160 years.
Our church, parish facilities, schools and community were devastated by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. By August 29, 2010, we had most of our facilities rebuilt. On that day, the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we dedicated a special marker and Angel of Light to honor the hundreds of volunteers who came to help us rebuild.
For more information on our history, download our history file in pdf format on the upper left column.