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Monday, 27 August 2012

The lakefront Florida retreat where FBI agents gunned down gangland legend Ma Barker in 1935 is up for sale - bullet holes and all.


12:07 |

The two-story wood frame house in rural Ocklawaha, 62 miles northwest of Orlando, is the site of one of the most celebrated raids in FBI history and the water-side home is expected to fetch up to $1 million.

 

Kept in the family since the famous gangland boss' final stand, the home is still riddled with the bullet holes from the gun-fight in which the FBI reportedly fired 2,000 shots during a four-hour stand-off.

Located on Lake Weir, the home where Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935 is up for sale - bullet holes and all

Located on Lake Weir, the home where Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935 is up for sale - bullet holes and all

 

'It's like walking into a time capsule in 1935. The fact that it has this extra history is a really interesting cachet,'  said  Mark Arnold, an agent with Stirling Sotheby's International Realty, who are handling the sale.

 

He was referring to how Kate 'Ma' Barker, who was branded Public Enemy No. 1 by the federal government for a rash of murders, kidnapping and robberies committed in the early 1930s, was killed in the house along with one of her sons in a barrage of bullets from federal agents.

 

 

Photos released at the time, believed by some to have been staged, show Barker lying dead in a second-floor bedroom clutching a machine gun.

 

But the Barker story is the stuff of gangster legend and crime buffs may put a premium on a prime piece of criminal memorabilia.

The bedroom where Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935

The bedroom where Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935

Stirling Sotherby's real estate advisor Mark Arnold stands in the second floor of the home that Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935

Stirling Sotherby's real estate advisor Mark Arnold stands in the second floor of the home that Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935

 

A bullet hole remains on the wall that Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935. The two-story frame house in rural Ocklawaha, is the site of one of the most celebrated raids in FBI history

A bullet hole remains on the wall that Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935. The two-story frame house in rural Ocklawaha, is the site of one of the most celebrated raids in FBI history

 

The house is 2,016 square feet (187 sq meters) with four bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms. The sale includes 9.5 acres shaded by stands of old oak trees and 1.5 acres of sandy beach on Lake Weir.

 

Books and movies including the 1970 film "Bloody Mama" starring Shelly Winters focus on what some see as the mythical Ma Barker. But the real Barker may have had little to do with Hollywood images and the criminal exploits of her four sons.

 

The four men were members of the ruthless Barker-Karpis gang that rampaged across the South and Midwest in the 1920s and early 1930s. But there has been little evidence to support claims that Barker herself was some sort of stone-cold criminal mastermind.

 

Taken directly after the raid this picture shows the house where Fred and Ma Barker were both were slain after a four hour gun battle with the F.B.I.

Taken directly after the raid this picture shows the house where Fred and Ma Barker were both were slain after a four hour gun battle with the F.B.I.

 

Ma Barker and her Thompson gun in an undated picture of the legendary matriarch

Ma Barker and her Thompson gun in an undated picture of the legendary matriarch

 

A realtor working for Bradford rented the home to a woman flashing a lot of cash who introduced herself as Kate Blackburn and her husband. The renters turned out to be Ma Barker and her fugitive son Fred.

Agents surrounded the two-story, wooden-framed home and fired more than 2,000 rounds during the course of the ensuing firefight.

The home, built in 1930 by Miami entrepreneur Carson Bradford, was described as the 'scene of the battle' by then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Put up for sale by Orlando resident and family member Carson Good, the 10-acre property in southeast Marion County is being sold through Stirling Sotheby's International Realty.

'There's unbelievable interest around the world in crime memorabilia,' said Roger Soderstrom, the broker who is conducting the sale to the Orlando Sentinel.

Fred Barker, and his mother, Kate Barker, are pictured in the morgue at Ocala, Florida, shortly following their gun battle with Federal agents at their hideaway at Oklawaha, Florida

Fred Barker, and his mother, Kate Barker, are pictured in the morgue at Ocala, Florida, shortly following their gun battle with Federal agents at their hideaway at Oklawaha, Florida

'People have never seen a property where everything is intact from the time of the event.

'We think the buyer could be someone who has a passion for crime memorabilia and who wants to build their own house [on the property] and keep this as a collector's house. 

'It could be a bed-and-breakfast. You could have weddings there.'

Official FBI reports from 1935 say that agents began the shoot-out at the Barker household by throwing three canisters of tear gas inside the house at 7.15 a.m.

Shooting began soon afterwards and the Barkers were reported to have used Thompson machine guns to attempt to repel the federal agents.

A bullet hole remains on the wall that Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI

A bullet hole remains on the wall that Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI

 

Stirling Sotherby's real estate advisor Mark Arnold holds a crime scene photo at the second floor of the home in Ocklawaha

Stirling Sotherby's real estate advisor Mark Arnold holds a crime scene photo at the second floor of the home in Ocklawaha

Three hours later, the agents reportedly had almost run out of ammunition and asked Willie Woodbury, a handyman on the estate to check that Barker and her son were indeed dead.

Finding that they were, agents detailed the scene and noted that Barker had died in a curled-up position, her slippers on the floor nearby, beneath the bedroom window.

 

The report filed said that Fred Barker died with 10 bullet holes in his left shoulder and chest, three bullets in his head, a steel Colt pistol underneath his body and four $1,000 bills folded in his pocket.

Upstairs and downstairs walls are pockmarked with indentations and raised plaster patches where bullets hit, and at least one through-and-through bullet hole remains un-repaired on the staircase. 

A still-serviceable wooden bedroom chair shows gouges from flying bullets.

Located on Lake Weir, the home where Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935 is up for sale and could fetch up to $1 million

Located on Lake Weir, the home where Kate 'Ma' Barker was shot dead by the FBI in 1935 is up for sale and could fetch up to $1 million

 

In the ensuing years, four generations of Bradfords continued to use the house as a summer getaway, Arnold said. 

The only updates made to the house were in the kitchen. 

Generations of Bradford children idled away summers at the Ocklawaha house digging around the property in an unsuccessful hunt for the gang's stash of stolen money, Arnold said.

 

'What is remarkable is this family has preserved all of this through four generations and it's still there and it's in good shape,' said Arnold said. 

'It just has a few bullet holes.'

 

He said potential buyers have expressed interest in a variety of uses for the property including a bed-and-breakfast resort. Offers will be accepted through October 5.





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