Harrison County

Whoopi. Oprah. Emeril. Who owned ‘The Castle,’ a mystery mansion in Pass Christian?

“The Castle,” a mansion on U.S. 90 in Pass Christian just west of the original Pirate’s Cove location, was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. But folklore still exists on the Coast today. Many people believe the home was owned by Oprah, Whoopi Goldberg or Emeril Lagasse.
“The Castle,” a mansion on U.S. 90 in Pass Christian just west of the original Pirate’s Cove location, was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. But folklore still exists on the Coast today. Many people believe the home was owned by Oprah, Whoopi Goldberg or Emeril Lagasse. Sun Herald/2003/file

Rumor has it, it belonged to Whoopi Goldberg. And Oprah. And Emeril Lagasse. And even a dead person.

In fact, the Sun Herald reported in 2003, many residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast believed that the famous chef from New Orleans owned the massive mansion on the Pass Christian beachfront. Mail arrived with his name on it regularly.

But all of that was good old-fashioned folklore.

The home, surrounded by stone walls and gates adorned with angels, was grand and unique. The Greek architecture was unlike many of the other neighboring houses on U.S. 90 at the time it was built about 15 years ago.

There was a lot of mystery behind the mega-mansion built just west of the original Pirate’s Cove location. But the story of the brick villa is far less majestic than the stories told about it to this day.

The stone mansion, known locally as “The Castle,” was owned by a European woman named Marina Vassiliou and was built by developer Jordan Whiteman.

Vassiliou put the home on the market for $1.8 million in 2003 because “the owner’s health suffers in the South Mississippi heat and humidity,” according to Sun Herald archives.

Whiteman sold the estate to I.V. and Mary Jeansonne, who already lived in a beachview mansion on the Coast.

In 2004, the Jeansonnes sued Whiteman, who was not a licensed contractor or real estate agent. The Jeansonnes told the Sun Herald the home began to leak shortly after the purchase.

But the drama would soon end and the mansion would become a memory when Hurricane Katrina destroyed it on August 29, 2005.

For curious minds, here’s a list of some of the features of the perished mansion, according to previous Sun Herald reports.

  • 1,800-square-foot master bedroom with three fireplaces
  • Two-story living room
  • Hand-painted domed ceiling
  • Formal dining room with seating for 12
  • Library
  • A special room for original owner’s 12 dogs

These provided photos by Pareto Real Estate show the interior space of Sullivan's Island home on the market for $4.9 million.

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