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Here are three Tampa Bay houses that aren’t your run-of-the-mill 3/2 ranches

One is tiny, one is old and one has space for 14 cars
This compound on Tampa's Boot Lake includes a main house and another building. [RUSSELL AND SHEILA FERLITA]
This compound on Tampa's Boot Lake includes a main house and another building. [RUSSELL AND SHEILA FERLITA]
Published Aug. 30, 2019
Updated Aug. 30, 2019

Every house has a story. But let’s face it, some have more interesting stories than others, whether because of size, history, price or unusual features. Here are three houses currently on the market that intrigued us for various reasons.

What: Six-bedroom, five-bath main house and separate building with apartment.

Where: 9808 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa

Price: $1.15 million

If you like wood, brick and own a lot of vehicles, this lakefront compound in Tampa is the place for you. Russell Ferlita, a civil engineer, designed the 3,500-square-foot main house in the late 1990s, and he and wife Sheila spent the next several years building much of it themselves. The outside walls are 19-inch-thick brick. Inside, all doors are solid wood, made with birdseye maple and 200-year-old oak from a tobacco barn. The spiral staircase is stainless steel wrapped in oak. The kitchen cabinets are oak. Oh, and the closets are cedar-lined.

Some of the wood in this lakefront Tampa home is 200-year-old oak from a tobacco barn. [RUSSELL AND SHEILA FERLITA]

To house Ferlita’s antique car collection, the main house has an eight-car garage while a second building has four spaces plus two lifts. The property also comes with two income-producing units — a studio apartment in the house and a two-bedroom, three-bath apartment attached to the outlying building.

The entire 1.6-acre compound sits on Boot Lake, large enough for water skiing. "It’s very, very private,'' Sheila Ferlita said of the property. "There’s one way in and one way out unless you’re gonna swim across the lake.'' Though she and her husband "absolutely love the house,'' they want to sell it because he is pushing 80 and parts of it are inaccessible to their granddaughter, who is in wheelchair.

"It’s a very unusual house,'' said Caroline Fielding, the listing agent. "It has to have the right buyer.''


This 384-square-foot house in Pinellas Park truly is a tiny house. [Susan Taylor Martin]

What: One bedroom, one bath house

Where: 5790 75th Terrace N, Pinellas Park

Price: $78,000

This was a tiny house before there were tiny houses (of the new, custom-built, Instagram-able variety.) Built in 1948 with 384 square feet of space, it is the smallest house currently on the market in the Tampa Bay area and one of the least expensive.

"It’s certainly a fixer-upper,'' listing agent Jason Hayes said, "but it doesn’t have a sinkhole.''

What the house does have is a convenient location. It’s a short drive to the Shoppes at Park Place mall and within biking or walking distance (on a cool day) to Pinellas Park’s library, performing arts center and city hall. It’s just a block from Park Station, a reproduction of an old-time train station that houses the local historical and art societies. And it’s in the emerging Pinellas Park Creative District, which has galleries and a monthly art walk. The city hopes to develop the district into a true artists’ colony, where artists could fix up small houses like this and use them for live-in studios.


This mansion on Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard once was home to the developer of Davis Islands. [Susan Taylor Martin]

What: Seven-bedroom, six-bath house

Where: 6409 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa

Price: $6.3 million

The famous part of Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard is the section with 4.5 miles of sidewalk — purportedly the world’s longest unbroken stretch of sidewalk — that runs along Hillsborough Bay from Davis Islands to Gandy Boulevard.

South of Gandy, Bayshore becomes a much narrower, quieter street, albeit still one lined with magnificent homes. Foremost among them is this three-story mansion built in the 1920s.

View from the Bayshore Boulevard house. [Susan Taylor Martin]

On two acres overlooking the bay, the house sits at the end of a long walkway bordered by immaculately pruned hedges. Among the home’s many striking features are beveled windows in the foyer, a spiral staircase, several fireplaces, a mahogany-paneled library and a rec room on the third floor. There’s also a separate two-bedroom, one-bath guest house and a pool in the back

Although the description of the house on the Multiple Listing Service says it once was home to D.P. Davis, developer of Tampa’s Davis Islands, it actually was the residence of Robert Davis, who was important in his own right. He owned a large asphalt paving block factory, likely located at the present site of the Tampy Bay History Center at 801 Old Water St., and his asphalt blocks paved many of the roads in South Tampa and Seminole Heights. Robert Davis also was vice president of the Beach Park Co., developers of Tampa’s tony Beach Park neighborhood.

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