St. Petersburg’s Rutland-Farley estate is for sale, take a look inside

For decades, the name “Rutland” has been prominent in St. Petersburg. Many residents opened their first checking accounts at Rutland Bank. They bought their shoes and suits at the Rutland department store. Those have disappeared over time, but there’s still a Rutland Plaza – and the fabulous Rutland-Farley Estate, which is now on the market for $8.5 million.

Designed in the English Tudor style, the 9,213 square foot home sits on nearly 4 ½ acres overlooking Little Bayou south of downtown St. Petersburg. It has seven bedrooms, 8 and a half bathrooms, six fireplaces, a gym, a butler’s pantry, and an oak-panelled library. On the park-like grounds, shaded by oak trees strung with Spanish moss, are an Olympic size swimming pool, an outdoor kitchen with pizza oven, a pétanque court and a putting green.

For boaters, there is a bayou dock and lift, which lead directly to Tampa Bay.

The house was originally built in 1918 for $50,000 and sold two years later to a Pennsylvania oil magnate for $100,000. At the time, a newspaper article described it as “one of the finest homes on the west coast of Florida.” Hubert Rutland Sr., head of a banking and ranching empire, acquired it and 20 surrounding acres in 1935. Granddaughter Nancy Rutland, who lived nearby, recalls the property being so large that it stretched nearly a mile along the bayou and even had an equestrian center.

“There was water, horses and we were walking in the woods,” she said. “It was just magical.” As for the house itself, “I thought it was haunted, but I’m sure it was my cousin playing tricks on me.”

The house remained in the Rutland family until the 1980s, when it began to rotate between owners again – a developer who sold much of the land; a Canadian con man convicted of health care schemes; a woman who nearly lost him in bankruptcy; and another woman who tried to convert it into a school without the proper permits.

In 2004, entrepreneur Phil Farley paid $2.3 million for the estate – hence the current name. He undertook an extensive renovation which added modern amenities while preserving the traditional character of the house. With its grandiose setting, the estate once again hosted parties, weddings and charity events.

“He was very generous with it,” Nancy Rutland said. “It’s a gracious house of entertainment and you can’t get more spectacular grounds.”

On the wrought iron gate at the entrance to the house, Farley posted a plaque with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. It reads:

“The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.”

Information from The Times files was used in this report.

An informal dining room with a vaulted brick ceiling overlooks some of the lush greenery of the Rutland-Farley Estate in St. Petersburg. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
The current owner has done a complete renovation of the house, which has had many owners over its 104 year history.
The current owner has done a complete renovation of the house, which has had many owners over its 104 year history. [ Tony Townsend ]
Among the former owners of the Rutland-Farley estate was banker Hubert Rutland Sr., who also owned what was at one time the largest ranch in Manatee County.
Among the former owners of the Rutland-Farley estate was banker Hubert Rutland Sr., who also owned what was at one time the largest ranch in Manatee County. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller Williams ]
    A listing for the Rutland-Farley estate notes that "the variety of textures of fabrics and other materials throughout the house add richness and warmth" at home.
A listing for the Rutland-Farley Estate notes that “the variety of textures of the fabrics and other materials in the house add richness and warmth” to the house. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
The Rutland-Farley Estate includes a four-car garage with staff quarters and a pool house with outdoor patios.  A brick walkway surrounds a spring-fed fountain and koi pond.
The Rutland-Farley Estate includes a four-car garage with staff quarters and a pool house with outdoor patios. A brick walkway surrounds a spring-fed fountain and koi pond. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
An elaborate treehouse overlooks both the two-lane pool and the bayou.
An elaborate treehouse overlooks both the two-lane pool and the bayou. [ Photo by Tony Townsend ]
A cloister walkway connects the main residence to a separate guest suite or staff residence.
A cloister walkway connects the main residence to a separate guest suite or staff residence. [ Tony Townsend ]
The upper floor bedrooms are all ensuite with two additional bathrooms in the house for guests.
The upper floor bedrooms are all ensuite with two additional bathrooms in the house for guests.
[ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller Williams ]
Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating areas make the home ideal for entertaining.
Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating areas make the home ideal for entertaining. [ Tony Townsend ]
The estate stretches from Fourth Street S to Little Bayou and has 400 feet of waterfront, far more than most other homes in St. Petersburg.
The estate stretches from Fourth Street S to Little Bayou and has 400 feet of waterfront, far more than most other homes in St. Petersburg. [ Tony Townsend ]
The Rutland-Farley Estate's informal dining room features a vaulted brick ceiling.
The Rutland-Farley Estate’s informal dining room features a vaulted brick ceiling. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller-Williams ]
The butler's pantry is an asset at charity events and other functions.
The butler’s pantry is an asset at charity events and other functions. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
Moldings and other decorative flourishes abound in the bedrooms and bathrooms of the home's living areas.
Crown moldings and other decorative flourishes abound in the home’s bedrooms and bathrooms. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
This is the official dining room of the house, which was built in 1918 although property records show the date as 1925. A fire destroyed earlier town records, so all houses older old ones were dated 1925.
This is the official dining room of the house, which was built in 1918 although property records show the date as 1925. A fire destroyed earlier town records, so all houses older old ones were dated 1925. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller Williams ]
The official entrance to the house, which at one time was to be the clubhouse of an upscale golf and yacht club.
The official entrance to the house, which at one time was to be the clubhouse of an upscale golf and yacht club. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
The official entrance to the house, which at one time was to be the clubhouse of an upscale golf and yacht club.  The property still has a putting green.
The official entrance to the house, which at one time was to be the clubhouse of an upscale golf and yacht club. The property still has a putting green. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller Williams ]
The current owner decided to sell the house, which has seven bedrooms, because his children were grown.
The current owner decided to sell the house, which has seven bedrooms, because his children were grown. [ Tony Townsend ]

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