When World War II ended, the congregation began planning for a new church building. After much discussion, the parish purchased property at the corner of West Beach Boulevard and 31st Avenue, and on April 24, 1949 the entire congregation processed solemnly from the church to the new location for the dedication of the grounds. By 1953, a new parish hall had been completed, and services for the 350 communicants were held there until November 18, 1956, when the new St. Peter’s by-the-Sea church building was finished. The original wooden church on 31st Avenue and 13th Street was deconsecrated on January 10, 1954. The Rt. Rev. John M. Allin, sixth Bishop of Mississippi and later Presiding Bishop, ECUSA, consecrated the new building on the last Sunday of 1958.

That edifice, erected by George P. Hopkins and George P. Hopkins, Jr., general contractors, was constructed of brick, metal and glass, and was one of the first churches on the Coast built in contemporary architectural style. Several “makeovers” through the years sought to soften its stark interior.

While all other beach front Episcopal churches were heavily damaged, St. Peter’s, though damaged, had been spared and was able to quickly reopen its doors to offer food and shelter to many storm survivors. The Parish Hall became a headquarters for the distribution of information and relief. The Rector, the Rev. Jim Bell, held funeral services daily. But because of damage to the church building, regular worship services were not held there again until Christmas Eve 1970.

After its recovery from Hurricane Camille, St. Peter’s by-the-Sea experienced a growth spurt during the 1970’s. Additions to the structure included a prayer garden, presided over by a statue of St. Francis of Assissi, that had been commissioned by parishioner and garden designer Joanne Palmer and sculpted of resin by Gulf Coast artist Dalton Shourds King. A detached bell tower, designed and fabricated in marble by parishioner Tim Barrineau, became part of the parish landscape when it was dedicated by the Right Rev. Duncan M. Gray Jr. on the 75th anniversary of St. Peter’s founding.

Photo by Mississippi Department of Archives and History