Intrigue and all the makings of a Lifetime Original Movie surround this historic church-turned-mansion that’s on the market in the Garden District of New Orleans. In fact, the place has nearly 99 problems — and transparency isn’t one!
For instance, why did the asking price inexplicably jump by $1 million, from $3.5 million to nearly $4.5 million, after less than one week on the market? Why are the current listing images recycled from 2015, when the property last sold, even though the structure was damaged by an alleged arson fire in July? Who started the fire, and why? Why is the place listed as an FSBO (for sale by owner), but the owner’s given phone number is registered to a Mississippi-based immigration attorney? The listing also tells prospective buyers to visit a certain property marketing website, but the site doesn’t actually exist — and that’s just for starters! (The ornate Spanish-style structure is also fully blurred on Google Maps, because of course it is.)
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit about the mansion, which is known as La Casa de Castille: It may never have been occupied by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Beyoncé (née Knowles), but it’s definitely owned by the music superstars. Deeds show the property is registered to Sugarcane Park LLC, an entity set up by Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment company and managed by her mother Tina Knowles. Per records, prior owner Sandra McNamara sold the property to the moguls in early 2015; it’s not clear how much the Carters paid, but the place had been asking $2.6 million. (McNamara acquired the property in 2001 for just $500,000, according to Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office records.)
Aside from the home’s unusual recent history, it’s now available exclusively on Zillow, and that’s pretty interesting in itself. The original listing quoted an unnamed “Grammy winner” who apparently said of the property, “The acoustics and vibes are great. I did my best writing ever while watching the sunset from the rooftop garden!” Per that listing, the place has also hosted weddings, events and major corporate executives within its baroque confines. And to sweeten the proverbial pot, the sellers have also offered to paint the structure the new owner’s choice of color before the deal closes.
Sited just a half-block from the city’s famed St. Charles Avenue, the 1927 building’s façade is marked by a trio of massive arched windows and an elaborate Churrigueresque crown. Once a Presbyterian church, the structure later became a ballet school before it was converted to residential use circa 2000; although it’s believed to retain the original hardwood floors, columns, moldings and church pews, the place obviously has undergone a dramatic transformation.
Today, there are six bedrooms and seven baths spread across 13,300 square feet of living space. Also on the premises are three one-bedroom apartments — each about 1,000 square feet — with discreet separate entrances from a side street, plus a rooftop garden with downtown views. The giant home is visually dominated by its 26-foot-tall great room, the church’s former sanctuary, that boasts lustrous hardwood floors.
It’s unclear if these spaces have been altered in the past few years, but other circa-2015 highlights included a crimson-walled dining room, a loft-like seating area, library with built-in bookshelves and a sumptuous executive office. There’s also a spacious — if decoratively dated — kitchen outfitted with high-grade Viking appliances and granite countertops. Upstairs, a massive owner’s bedroom suite holds a private sitting room, walk-in closet and bathroom with a clawfoot tub.
The Carters, who together have an estimated net worth that tops $1.5 billion, also maintain a $26 million home in East Hampton, N.Y., an $88 million Bel Air mansion and a lavish Tribeca penthouse acquired by Jay-Z way back in 2004.