Local legend holds that, more than a century ago, in the newly incorporated city of Gulfport, Mississippi, boarding house residents who gathered around the piano to sing on Saturday evenings decided to continue for Sunday church services if they could find space. From 1898 to 1900, interdenominational services were held in an empty boxcar on a railroad siding. Initiated by a group of young Methodists, this “Boxcar Church” gradually dissolved as each denomination procured its own location. Records show that Mississippi’s Bishop Hugh Miller Thompson held Episcopal services in Gulfport in the Methodist Building in 1901.
In 1899, the Rev. Irenaeius Trout, Rector of Christ Church, Bay St. Louis and a missionary to Gulf Coast churches, began organizing a church in Gulfport. At the 1902 Diocesan Council, Bishop Thompson reported that
Mr. Trout has another neat church completed in that ‘wild and wooly’ town of Gulfport
A description attributed in parish history directly to the Rev. Mr. Trout who apparently didn’t think very highly of the new city. The Council that year recognized St. Peter’s as an organized mission.
The first church building was a white wooden frame structure on 31st Avenue, built on land donated by Gulfport founder Capt. Joseph T. Jones of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad. On January 21, 1921, at the 94th Annual Council,