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See inside this historic St. Petersburg mansion before it’s torn down

The owners of the Rutland Farley home will host an estate and demolition sale this weekend.
 
The Rutland Farley Mansion is seen in this undated photo courtesy of Engel & Völkers.
The Rutland Farley Mansion is seen in this undated photo courtesy of Engel & Völkers. [ Engel & Völkers ]
Published June 30|Updated July 1

Curious onlookers will have a chance to step foot inside a famed St. Petersburg home and possibly bring a piece of history home with them this weekend.

An estate and demolition sale will take place this weekend at the Rutland Farley estate, according to an advertisement on estatesales.net

The formal dining room in the Rutland-Farley estate.
The formal dining room in the Rutland-Farley estate. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Keller Williams ]

“See house before it is gone,” reads the advertisement.

The English Tudor-style home at 5030 Sunrise Drive S was built in 1918 and later purchased by Hubert Rutland Sr., head of a banking and ranching empire. It remained in the family until the 1980s and changed hands several times after that.

It went on the market again in March 2022 and was purchased a couple of months ago for $8.1 million in cash, according to the seller’s agent, Ziba Mohammadi.

The listing for the Rutland-Farley estate notes that textural variety of the fabrics and other materials in this living room and other areas "add richness and warmth" to the house.
The listing for the Rutland-Farley estate notes that textural variety of the fabrics and other materials in this living room and other areas "add richness and warmth" to the house. [ TONY TOWNSEND | Tony Townsend ]

The buyer, Louis Miele, told the Tampa Bay Times that he and his wife fell in love with the home and wanted to preserve it, but they discovered a plethora of issues, including mold and termite damage.

“We had 8 inspectors look at the house,” he said. “It would cost probably twice as much to fix it as it would to replace it.”

Miele said he and his wife still intend to live on the property and use it as a single family estate. Though they are still in the early stages of designing their home, they are leaning toward a Mediterranean-style design.

“It will not be an ultra-modern house.” he said.

The Rutland Farley Mansion is seen in this undated photo courtesy of Engel & Völkers.
The Rutland Farley Mansion is seen in this undated photo courtesy of Engel & Völkers. [ Engel & Völkers ]

No demolition permits have been filed yet, according to records on the city of St. Petersburg’s permitting website. But a sign from a demolition contractor called AAA Service Company has been posted in the yard. That company could not be reached for comment.

The original home spans 9,213 square feet and sits on 4.5 acres of land overlooking Little Bayou.

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 ]
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“There was the water, and horses and we’d stomp through the woods,” Nancy Rutland, the granddaughter of Hubert Rutland Sr., told Bay Magazine last year. “It was just magical.”

Miele said he wanted to give people the opportunity to salvage pieces of the home in order to preserve the history. He said he met with city officials and asked if they wanted to take any heirlooms from the site but they declined.

Some of the items up for grabs in the estate sale include sofas, Oriental rugs, a baby grand piano, a pizza oven and the original wrought iron gates that greeted guests at the entrance to the property.

The sale will run from 9 a.m. to 3 pm on Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

A brick driveway  that wraps around a spring-fed fountain and koi pond leads to the Rutland-Farley estate.
A brick driveway that wraps around a spring-fed fountain and koi pond leads to the Rutland-Farley estate. [ Keller Williams ]

Times staff writer Susan Taylor Martin contributed to this report.