“Riviera of South”
Grand Bay was considered the Riviera of the South because of its mild climate and super farming land. Satsumas and other fruits were what this community was economically built on during this time. People were encouraged to settle in this town because of climate, health, social conditions, and profit in the agricultural business. The following information is a brief description of the historic sites of Grand Bay.
1 The six thousand dollar railroad depot, built in 1870 and presently the site of the Grand Bay garden, was a main attribute to this small towns production of the Satsuma orange and other citric fruits, which were carried by the train to the northern states. On August 15, 1870, the railroad ran between Mobile and Pascagoula, later in October the connection between Mobile and New Orleans was completed therefore giving this small town’s agricultural wealth access to the northern states through the Mississippi river. A new depot was built in 1913 and in 1960 the Grand Bay station was torn down.
2 The Grand Bay State Bank was located in the front of this building from 1913, when it was built, to 1929. In 1929 the bank failed when the stock market crashed and was then the site of the post office from 1933 to 1975. Colton Drug store was located in the back of this building while the up-stairs was used for the meetings of the Masonic lodge.
3 The Albert Freeland store was built in 1911 and sold everything from seeds to farm equipment. Today it is the home of the Grand Bay Jaycees.
4 After purchasing one and a half plots of land, including 60 acres of farm land, Abraham Lincoln Cleaveland felt that there was one major problem to the up-growing town; there was no hotel. Tourist and business people, who came by train or horse and buggy, had to make an additional trip to Mobile to find lodging. So in 1905 he constructed a large wooden two story hotel which he named “The Grand Bay Hotel.” The hotel was operated by Mr. Cleaveland and his wife from 1905 to 1921 when it was then sold and renamed the “Frazees Hotel.”
5 Grand Bay first cemetery is on Cemetery Road off Potter Tract Road. The oldest, marble headstone is dated in 1868, but there are wooden markers dated before this, although the wooden markers are near decay and nonexistence due to weathering and fires used to keep the grounds cut in those days.
6 The Grand Bay Art Center, built in 1878, was once the home of the First Baptist Church. The old white Methodist Church in another church that was in Grand Bay around 1924.
7 The birthdate of Grand Bay was established as December 12, 1870, when the first post office was opened. In 1928, the post office was moved to a building that no longer stands, but was next to the Albert Freeland Store. From 1933 to 1975 the post office was located where the State Bank was in the 20’s. In 1975 the post office moved to its present location.
8 The Grand Bay Packing Co. built in 1912 was one of three packing plants in Grand Bay. The Grand Bay Packing Co. was located in the area of Henry Poiroux’s Barber Shop, while another was located at present day Trackside Service Station. The third plant was located on Potter Tract Road where Mr. Taylor Harper lives today. These plants not only packed satsumas but cucumbers, apples, pears, pecans, potatoes and cabbage. Watermelons and cantaloupes were grown extensively and shipped in car lots to the large
local markets and to the North.
- The first school in Grand Bay was located in this house. In 1915 the school was moved to a building where Friendship Baptist Church now stands. On October 15, 1915 this school opened with 100 students and five teachers. The students were brought to school on four wagons which the school board hired. The present day high school was built in 1947.
This information was taken from a 1986 Historical Guide prepared as an Eagle Project of Rick Hinklemann – Troop 137 Grand Bay, Alabama Boy Scouts.
The information in this guide was contributed by Taylor Harper, Bruce Pate and other citizens of Grand Bay.