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.