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

History and splendor combine in this waterfront estate.
The Rutland-Farley estate extends from Fourth Street S to Little Bayou in St. Petersburg and sits on 4 1/2 acres with 400 feet of waterfront. It encompassed 20 acres when it was the home of banker Hubert Rutland, who also owned what was at one time the largest ranch in Manatee County.
The Rutland-Farley estate extends from Fourth Street S to Little Bayou in St. Petersburg and sits on 4 1/2 acres with 400 feet of waterfront. It encompassed 20 acres when it was the home of banker Hubert Rutland, who also owned what was at one time the largest ranch in Manatee County. [ Keller Williams ]
Published Mar. 13

For decades, the name “Rutland” has been big in St. Petersburg. Many residents opened their first checking accounts at Rutland Bank. They got their shoes and suits at Rutland Department Store. Those vanished with 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 English Tudor style, the 9,213-square-foot house sits on nearly 4 ½ acres overlooking Little Bayou south of downtown St. Petersburg. It has seven bedrooms, 8 ½ bathrooms, six fireplaces, a gym, a butler’s pantry and an oak-paneled library. On the parklike grounds, shaded by oaks hung with Spanish moss, are an Olympic-size pool, an outdoor kitchen with pizza oven, a bocce ball court and a putting green.

For boaters, there’s a dock and lift on the bayou, which lead directly into 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 story 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 that the property was so big that it stretched almost a mile along the bayou and even had a riding stable.

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

The house remained in the Rutland family into the 1980s, when it again began to churn through owners — a developer who sold off much of the land; a Canadian con artist convicted of health care schemes; a woman who nearly lost it 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 embarked on an extensive renovation that added modern amenities while preserving the traditional character of the home. With its grand setting, the estate once again has hosted parties, weddings and charity events.

“He has been very generous with it,” Nancy Rutland said. “It’s a gracious entertainment house and you cannot get more spectacular grounds.”

On the wrought iron gate at the entrance to the house, Farley has 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 Times files was used in this report.

An informal dining area with vaulted brick ceiling looks out over some of the lush vegetation at the Rutland-Farley estate in St. Petersburg.
An informal dining area with vaulted brick ceiling looks out over some of the lush vegetation at the Rutland-Farley estate in St. Petersburg. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
The current owner did an extensive renovation of the house, which has had numerous owners in its 104-year history.
The current owner did an extensive renovation of the house, which has had numerous owners in its 104-year history. [ Tony Townsend ]
Among the previous owners of the Rutland-Farley estate was banker Hubert Rutland Sr., who also owned what at one time was the largest ranch in Manatee County.
Among the previous owners of the Rutland-Farley estate was banker Hubert Rutland Sr., who also owned what at one time was the largest ranch in Manatee County. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller Williams ]
 A listing for the Rutland-Farley estate notes that "the textural variety of the fabrics and other materials in the home add richness and warmth" to the house.
A listing for the Rutland-Farley estate notes that "the textural variety of the fabrics and other materials in the home 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 terraces. A brick driveway wraps around a spring-fed fountain and a koi pond.
The Rutland-Farley estate includes a four-car garage with staff quarters and a pool house with outdoor terraces. A brick driveway wraps around a spring-fed fountain and a koi pond. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
An elaborate treehouse overlooks both the dual-lane pool and the bayou.
An elaborate treehouse overlooks both the dual-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 an additional two bathrooms in the house for guests.
The upper-floor bedrooms are all ensuite with an additional two bathrooms in the house for guests. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller Williams ]
Numerous indoor and outdoor seating areas make the house ideal for entertaining.
Numerous indoor and outdoor seating areas make the house ideal for entertaining. [ Tony Townsend ]
The estate extends from Fourth Street S to Little Bayou and has 400 feet of waterfront, far more than most other homes in St. Petersburg.
The estate extends from Fourth Street S to Little Bayou and has 400 feet of waterfront, far more than most other homes in St. Petersburg. [ Tony Townsend ]
An informal dining area at the Rutland-Farley estate has a vaulted brick ceiling.
An informal dining area at the Rutland-Farley estate has a vaulted brick ceiling. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller-Williams ]
The butler's pantry is an asset during charitable events and other functions.
The butler's pantry is an asset during charitable events and other functions. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
Crown moldings and other decorative flourishes abound throughout the home's living areas bedrooms and bathrooms.
Crown moldings and other decorative flourishes abound throughout the home's living areas bedrooms and bathrooms. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
This is the formal dining room of the house, which was built in 1918 although property records show the date as 1925. A fire destroyed prior city records so all older homes were assigned the 1925 date.
This is the formal dining room of the house, which was built in 1918 although property records show the date as 1925. A fire destroyed prior city records so all older homes were assigned the 1925 date. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller Williams ]
The formal entrance to the house, which at one time was planned to be the clubhouse for an upscale golf and yacht club.
The formal entrance to the house, which at one time was planned to be the clubhouse for an upscale golf and yacht club. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]
The formal entrance to the house, which at one time was planned to be the clubhouse for an upscale golf and yacht club. The property still has a putting green.
The formal entrance to the house, which at one time was planned to be the clubhouse for 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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