The Reverend Charles Johnson, rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Bay St. Louis, founded Coast Episcopal School in 1950. Born in the Parish Hall of the church, the school, originally named Christ Episcopal Day School, began as a class of seventeen children but rapidly grew into a comprehensive school.
In September of 1950, the Masonic Temple Building on Main Street in Bay St. Louis opened its doors to host students temporarily, and the following year Coast Episcopal purchased a seven and one-half acre estate on the Gulf of Mexico where an existing carriage house was renovated to house the school.
Growing at the rate of one grade per year, a complete grammar school of eight grades was realized in 1958. The brick building that housed the elementary school was erected in 1956, but by 1968, CEDS had outgrown even those additional facilities.
In 1968, the Simmons Estate on the beach in Pass Christian was purchased to house not only the new junior high but also a full senior high school, with September 1969, as the target date for opening.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Camille’s devastating blow to the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast in August 1969, destroyed the facilities in Pass Christian and severely damaged the elementary facilities in Bay Saint Louis. Forging ahead, the renamed Coast Episcopal School completed repairs and the addition of portable classroom buildings and reopened its doors to students in grades kindergarten through twelve at the end of September 1969. In 1971, a thirty-five acre former pecan orchard in Long Beach was purchased to erect a new building while facilities in Bay St. Louis continued operation.
The Early Education Development Center was then added for children ages four and five. In 1987, a three-year-old class was added to the preschool program, and in 1999, our Toddler Program for ages one to three was put in place.
During the summer of 2001, the faculty and staff worked diligently to move the Lower School from Bay St. Louis to the campus on Espy Avenue in Long Beach. Moreover, through the generous efforts of some Coast Episcopal families, a new Preschool building was constructed.
When school began in August of 2002, all of Coast Episcopal’s students were at a single, united campus. For the first time since the founding of the school in 1950, the Coast Episcopal family was together as one. Today, the Espy Avenue campus houses the toddler program, the preschool program, and kindergarten through sixth grades.
In 2008, a new Toddler Building was constructed to house our youngest members (ages one through three) of the Coast Episcopal School family. A few years later, already acclaimed as an inspiring center for student art, drama, music, and creativity, CES announced the Gail Keenan Art Center (GKAC). The GKAC provides a venue for visual and performing arts to the CES students and the Gulf Coast community.