* Suggested price at least $1 million
* Ma Barker was 1930s criminal and "public enemy No. 1"
* She was shot dead in a second-floor bedroom in 1935
OCKLAWAHA, Fla., Aug 20 (Reuters) - The lakefront Florida
retreat where FBI agents gunned down gangland legend Ma Barker
in 1935 is up for sale - bullet holes and all.
The two-story frame house in rural Ocklawaha, 62 miles (100
km) northwest of Orlando, is the site of one of the most
celebrated raids in FBI history and the suggested starting price
on bids for it is $1 million.
There have been attempts to patch up and plaster over the
bullet holes but Mark Arnold, an agent with Stirling Sotheby's
International Realty, almost makes them sound like part of the
attraction of the place.
"It's like walking into a time capsule in 1935. The fact
that it has this extra history is a really interesting cachet,"
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
fusillade 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
The house is 2,016 square feet (187 sq meters) with four
bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms. The sale includes 9.5 acres (3.8
hectares) shaded by stands of old oak trees and 1.5 acres (0.6
hectares) 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.
LONG AND FIERCE SHOOTOUT
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
Arnold said the Ocklawaha house was built as a summer
vacation home on Lake Weir in 1930 by Carson Bradford, a wealthy
Miami furniture manufacturer and partner in a jai alai concern.
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.
According to the property website, www.mabarkerhouse.com,
more than 2,000 rounds were fired over four hours in what was
the longest and fiercest shootout in FBI history.
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 unrepaired
on the staircase. A still-serviceable wooden bedroom chair shows
gouges from flying bullets.
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," 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 Oct. 5.
(Editing by Tom Brown and Bill Trott)