Jesica Sherman Gundlach
James M Sherman, horticulturist, books included -- "Road I Came" and "Fragrant Beauty of Flowers and Trees."
James M. Sherman in 1921, at age 67, solely with the assistance of a young Negro to help him pour concrete, the horticulturist, agriculturist, and author of several books, designed the solid cement steel-reinforced castle located at 1012 West Beach, Highway 90. At the time of his death, he had completed most of the structure with walls that are nine inches thick. Much of the structure was first laid out in molds which were shaped and poured with concrete, to piece by piece, erect the castle.
One of his daughters, Mrs. George (Jessie) Gundlach moved from St. Louis to reside at the Castle five years after his death in 1937. Mrs. Gundlach, an accomplished oil-painter renamed the castle to Chateau Sherman where she also installed a separate room within her home to house the crafts of a newly formed Boy Scout troop.
The Boy Scout Troop #211, known as the IGAMS, was chartered on Feb 22, 1957, having their troop quarters and craft rooms at the Chateau Sherman with Mrs. Gundlach as their Leader. Troop members were Tommy Latino, E.J. Ladner, Wayne Ford, Philip David, Norman Pavolini, Tommy Ruspoli, and the Milbe Brothers.
As Internationalists, the Gundlachs generously entertained foreign guests from allover the world. Often, they would invite newcomers who were stationed at Keesler Air Field, in particular, Korean flight officers who eventually were instrumental in having the castle painted pink and green.
After meeting her first Korean flight officer at Keesler, she invited the young man to stop by her home for a cup of coffee. That officer was followed by many others who were extended hospitality which at times even included Korean dishes such as Kimchi (pickled cabbage) and Bulgoggi (toasted beef).
Through the course of more than 15 years, Mrs. Gundlach was adopted as “American Mom” to more than 400 Korean Air force officers who had been in training at Keesler.
During a trip around the world, the Gundlachs toured Korea for two weeks while reestablishing acquaintances with nearly 100 Republic of Korea airmen who had been guests in their Pass Christian home during the 1950s. In appreciation for their promotion of International. Friendship they were awarded the "Wings of the Air Force." The Korean flight officers had dubbed the castle as the "College of International Friendship." While in Seoul, Korea the Gundlachs were also acknowledged by the Korean Boy Scouts for their furthering of scouting in that country and in recognition of the orphan adoption program that they had sponsored.
“Come have a cup of Coffee with me!”
In the spirit of international hospitality, Jessie Gundlach wrote a poem depicted her graciousness. It was entitled "A Cup of Coffee" which adequately displayed the hostess’s desire to invite the many people to her castle. She never forgot scouting which included the Girl Scouts and the Brownies who were taught patriotism with lowering of the flag ceremonies followed by singing of “America" on the front lawn of the Castle Sherman.
George Gundlach died at age 80 in 1968, survived by Jessie, who weathered the tidal surge of Hurricane Camille that passed through her sturdy Castle as she remained the night by herself in 1969.
A strong woman, in 1975 she honored McKinley Bradley of DeLisle with a weekend Garden Walk open to the public for viewing the Castle's lawn and gardens in acknowledging Bradley's continued service in the building, maintenance, and repairs to the Castle over a 53-year period. He was the same young Negro who had helped her father, James Sherman pour the first concrete for the Castle Sherman.
Following the Camille damages to the Castle and the beautiful lawns and gardens, Bradley assisted Mrs. Gundlach with the major clean-up. Mrs. Gundlach remarked that “Old age is so beautiful” in summarizing the time needed to restore the home, building, yard and contents to its pristine beauty.
Bradley was honored for his 53 years of work and service to the castle which had endured through 3 hurricanes. Bradley’s time line was marked throughout the estate as he was first engaged on October 26, 1921. In proceeding along the garden paths, there were numerous milestones engraved with dates indicating certain project completions, indicated by concrete posts and small markers. Following Camille, the stone slabs and quarry had to be reinstalled throughout the landscape. The driftwood collection was recovered and redeployed on the walls for display. Mrs. Gundlach considered her driftwood pieces as God’s ornamental sculptures.
A plaque marks the theme of the Castle, "God is my Sculptor."
By Dan Ellis — 1997
Photo by Ron Daley taken after Hurricane Katrina Clean-Up and Restorations.
April 14, 2007