What's the story with the castle-looking building near Irish Bayou?
There once was a Louisiana builder named Simon Villemarette, who said he was tired of building rectangular structures. When he had the chance to rebuild his fishing camp after a fire destroyed it, he wanted something unique. In 1981, Villemarette built "La Chateau Villemarette" in the Irish Bayou subdivision. This is the small white castle nestled along Highway 11 that is visible from Interstate 10 East. The structure is also called "Fisherman's Castle."
Villemarette's chateau has 942 square feet of living space with two bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms and a kitchen at the base of the turret. At the top of the turret, one can enjoy panoramic views of Irish Bayou and New Orleans' skyline. It was a regal retreat for Villemarette and his wife, whose home was in Arabi.
Villemarette told the Associated Press, "Every bit of construction, every beam, every piece of molding from bottom to top is done as best as I know how to do it, and I'm doing it all myself." There are steel cables throughout the structure, extending from the roof to the concrete base, and pilings. The structure was so well-built, it survived Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac, though it does need some repairs.
Villemarette hoped the castle would attract tourists visiting the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans. He publicized the chateau by making souvenirs, including doubloons with an image of the castle on one side and he and his wife on the other. Tourists didn't flock to the castle, however, and Villemarette sold it. Ownership has changed over the years. Charles Kuhl purchased the castle in 1995 and is the current owner. He says he is seeking contractors who can refurbish the castle and plans to possibly convert it to a bed and breakfast.