By Debbie Emery – Radar Reporter
True crime aficionados and history buffs will be excited to put a bid on the house that served as a hideout for notorious gangster “Ma” Barker, which recently hit the market with an asking price of $1 million.
The mother of a crew of criminals wanted for bank robbery, kidnapping and murder was shot dead in 1935 at age 61 in the Ocklawaha, Florida, house in one of the longest gun battles in FBI history.
Set across 9 acres of wooded waterfront property, the 2,016-square-foot two-story frame house features four bedrooms, two bathrooms – and plenty of bullet holes in the walls!
“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, reported the Gulf Times.
Kate “Ma” Barker became infamous as the caretaker and matriarch of the feared Barker-Karpis gang, who committed a spree of violent crimes across the South and Midwest in the 1920s and early 1930s.
While the depth her role in the illegal activities has since been disputed — some claim her boys sent her to the movies when they hit a bank — she was named Public Enemy No. 1 and killed along with her son, Fred, in the bloody standoff in the rural estate on Lake Weir.
The house was originally built in 1930 by Carson Bradford, a wealthy Miami furniture manufacturer, as a vacation escape and was rented out by a realtor to a woman named Kate Blackburn, who paid up front in cash.
According to the property website (www.mabarkerhouse.com), more than 2,000 rounds were fired over four hours in a fierce shootout with federal agents.
Upstairs and downstairs walls are pockmarked with indentations and raised plaster patches where bullets hit, and at least one complete bullet hole remains unrepaired on the staircase. A still-serviceable wooden bedroom chair shows gouges from flying bullets.
The Bradford family has continued to use the retreat as a summer getaway ever since and the only updates that have been made are in the kitchen, apart from a few holes in the garden where generations of children vigilantly dug in an unsuccessful hunt for the gang’s stash of stolen money.
“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,” Arnold, who expects that it might be bought as a bed and breakfast, told the Gulf Times. “It just has a few bullet holes.”