Waveland (the Land of the Waves) was originally part of old Shieldsboro (now Bay St. Louis) and was known as Montgomery Station and Grand Bend before applying for, and being granted, a special charter to become a separate municipality with a Mayor and Board of Aldermen in 1888.
Early in 1970, under the administration of then Mayor Garfield Ladner, Waveland became a city due to the increase in its population. Initially, it’s creation was largely due to the presence of the L & N Railroad and it’s
proximity to New Orleans. From the beginning, it was a resort town to many New Orleans residents having summer homes here.
Today, Waveland is the only city on the Gulf Coast prohibiting commercial buildings on the beachfront. At
the foot of Coleman Avenue is the Veteran’s Memorial Monument, honoring all veterans. Next to the monument
is the Garfield Ladner Pier extending 860’ into the Bay of St. Louis (replacing the pier built in 1988 and completed in 2003). This pier is built of concrete, replacing the wooden pier lost in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is used by fishermen from dawn to dusk. It has handicap access and picnic pavilions. A bike/walking track alongBeach Boulevard stretches from Waveland to the Bay St. Louis Bridge and is popular with walkers, runners and bikers.
The Krewe of Nereids, a women’s carnival association, was established in 1966 and parades two Sundays before Mardi Gras on Highway 90 beginning in Bay St. Louis and ending in Waveland. It originally paraded on Coleman Avenue, but grew so large that it was forced to move to Highway 90.
The Waveland Civic Association hosts the annual St. Patrick’s Parade the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day (March 17). After Hurricane Katrina the parade was moved to Highway 90. In 2012, after the opening of the new City Hall, the
St. Patrick’s Day Parade returned to Coleman Avenue.
Wave Fest is the after summer festival on Coleman Avenue. It’s a street fair with food, arts & crafts and music.
WaveFest is sponsored by the Waveland Community Coalition.
2012 brought the first Halloween Trunk or Treat. Area businesses and civic groups set up tables and give out candy and other treats to children (and at heir parents). There’s face painting, a cake walk, a haunted house and a booth decorating contest.
The Waveland “Festival of Lights” is on the first Sunday in December on Coleman Avenue. At 5:00 PM there is caroling on the steps of City Hall and at dusk, Santa arrives by fire truck to light the tree on City Hall’s plaza.
After the tree lighting, children’s pictures are taken with the Carousel Reindeer, refreshments are served and children tell Santa their Christmas Wishes.
Buccaneer State Park (dedicated on January 1, 1976) is located west of Waveland on 343 acres on property formerly owned by Andrew Jackson and known as Jackson Ridge. The Wave Pool was completed in 1979.
Coleman Avenue was the principal business district before it was destroyed by Hurricane Camille in1969. After being revitalized, it was again destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The new City Hall was dedicated in 2012 on the site of the original City Hall which was built between 1906 and 1908, which was originally built as Waveland’s school.
Most of the homes on the beach were destroyed by Camille in 1969 (only 12 survived). Before Hurricane Katrina, there were very few lots available to build on. Now, new beach homes are being built once more.
The “Pirate House” was built in 1802, legend says by Jean Lafitte, to be used to smuggle slaves and bounty through a tunnel linking the house to the waterfront. It is rumored that Lafitte lived there from 1812-1815
and subsequently, owners have told of “strange happenings”. It was destroyed during Camille in 1969 and another house was built on the land, subsequently lost to Hurrcane Katrina in 2005.
Andrew Jackson built a home on what is known as “Jackson Ridge” (presently the site of Buccaneer State Park) which was occupied by his nephew. It burned in 1935.
In 1859, Fred Brown of Germany settled 90 acres at the southwest corner of the current intersection of Waveland Avenue and Highway 90. By the time he had been on the property for the required 5 years in order to purchase the property under the Homestead Act, 15 acres had already been planted in scuppernong grapes and grapes for champagne. His vineyard was known for its scuppernong wine and champagne, as well as for a colony of alligators. It was located in the vicinity of Highway 90 and Old Spanish Trail.
The Pirate House site, Jackson Ridge and Brown’s Vineyard are designated as a National Historic Sites.
The first post office was established in October of 1875.
Mrs. Eliza Poitevent Nicholson was a pioneer woman journalist who wrote under the pen name “Pearl Rivers”. She lived at Fort Nicholson with her husband, George, and was the editor of the New Orleans Daily Picayune. “Lyrics” by Pearl Rivers was published in 1878.
During the 1880s, the major business was the Ulman Woolen Mill on Nicholson Avenue. The J. B. Ulman store was located 16‘ from the L & N railroad crossing and opposite the woolen mill. They made wool blankets and black and white plaid shawls. Jeff Davis Avenue was opened to build homes for the mill workers and was known as “Ulmanville“.
St. Clare Catholic Church was built in 1881 and did mission work. It became a parish in 1919 and was also a parochial elementary school.
The original Waveland school was built between 1906 and 1908 by Ferdinand Raymond. In 1930 a brick building was erected (the present Civic Center) and city government took over the school. In March of 1972, the new Waveland Elementary School was completed. The Civic Center had meeting rooms an auditorium and facilities for senior citizens. After Hurricane Katrina this was the only building standing on Coleman Avenue. It was restored by a grant from Mississippi Archives and History and is presently housing the Civic Center and the Hurricane Katrina Museum. One room will house a hand cranked carousel donated after Hurricane Katrina by the people of Port Townsend Washington.
The first electric lights were turned on March 14, 1912.
The Bay-Waveland Yacht Club was incorporated on December 13, 1921 and is still in operation today.
On August 31, 1927, Gulfside Assembly (Methodist Episcopal Church) was dedicated on the premises of the old Jackson House.
Percival Stern, a New Orleans philanthropist and summer resident, proved that citrus trees could be grown on the coast.
The first resident of Waveland missing in action during World Ward II was honored in 1972 with a park being dedicated to his memory, the Elwood Bourgeois Park. He was one of twelve children of Thomas J. Bourgeois, who served Waveland as Mayor for twenty-three years.
In 1976, the Wastewater Plant went on line to serve Hancock County, Bay St. Louis and Waveland.
The New Waveland Library, located on Coleman Avenue, was completely renovated in 1999. It was lost in Hurricane Katrina and an impressive brick library, completed in 2010 has replaced it.
The poll books for 1911-1912 listed 130 voters, and the census of 1920 listed the population at 431. The 2000 census showed the population at 6,674; and the poll books showed 7771 voters. The 2010 Census lists the population of Waveland at 6,435.