On Dec. 24, 1923, the Daily Herald newspaper carried the following notice: “Mrs. A. V. Gillespie 1882-1975) announces the opening of The Tea Shoppe. 133 Lameuse Street. Gifts and antiques for sale. Catering a Specialty.”
Pictured circa 1924, Annette Gillespie’s Tea Shoppe stood on the west side of Lameuse Street within the first block north of the beach in Biloxi.
It quickly became the fashionable place for the socialites of Biloxi and the surrounding area to go for old-fashioned tea parties, luncheons and club meetings.
In February 1924 Annette began something new and different in her shop in the form of fashion shows.
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In calibration with the New Orleans clothing store, Gus Mayer & Co., models presented the latest spring styles of women’s dresses, wraps, gowns and children’s frocks.
The shows continued with new fashions in the summer and the fall. In June that year, Annette extended the shop’s hours and began to serve dinner every evening except Sunday.
Despite its success, Annette sold the business in December 1924, and the new owners called it the Flower Basket Tea Shoppe.
But that wasn’t the end of Annette Gillespie’s career as a preeminent hostess. She was put in charge of the Mexican Gulf Country Club in Pass Christian in 1926. The following year she became the formal hostess at the new Pine Hills Hotel on the extreme northern rim of the Bay of St. Louis.
Over the years Annette was affiliated, either as hostess or manager, with the Markham Hotel in Gulfport, the Inn-by-the-Sea in Pass Christian, the Kinloch Hotel between Biloxi and Gulfport, and the Annette Tea Shop in Long Beach.
In 1930 the widowed Annette married Ross Elmer of Biloxi, and together they managed the Tivoli Hotel in that city. The Daily Herald once described Annette as “an accomplished conversationalist, a charming companion, and fully fitted to set the formal tone of a hotel.”
Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event in the Coast’s distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and phone number to Flashback, Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535; call 896-2424; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.