The sprawling 25,000-square-foot mansion known as the Monroe House famously survived Hurricane Katrina and has been a Gulf Coast icon since 1963.
The 15-bedroom estate was reported destroyed in less than 12 hours. Pass Christian firefighters told WLOX that it might be the biggest house fire they have ever battled.
“Once it got a hold of some of the heavier timber and material, we just weren’t able to get ahead of it,” Chief Gordon explained, adding that the property will be considered a total loss.
Lots of smoke still coming out of this home on Scenic Drive in Pass Christian. I’ve been told thankfully, no one was injured in the fire. Units have been fighting the flames since around 4 o’clock this morning. #News25 pic.twitter.com/oXg3dfuNte— Gabby Easterwood WXXV (@GabbyEWXXV) August 5, 2019
The original structure was built in 1963 for New Orleans businessman J. Edgar Monroe, who wanted a winter home that resembled his family's opulent summer home in Newport, Rhode Island. The Newport estate, named Rosecliff, was featured in the 1974 film version of The Great Gatsby. Two additional wings were added to the home by current owner Charles Ramsey, whose renovations tripled the square footage of the estate.
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The mansion has been on and off the market since 2011, and had its price reduced from $15 million to $12.5 million in 2014, and most recently to $6.5 million.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the family believes it was started when lightning hit the chimney around 4 a.m. Monday. Fortunately, both residents who were home at the time were able to escape uninjured.