OCKLAWAHA, FL – Ma Barker — Florida’s most notorious gangster — continues to make headlines. The lakefront property near Ocala, Florida that was the site of the infamous Gangster Era shootout where Barker was killed is now listed for sale on Ocala4sale.com. The parcel has about 160 feet of frontage on scenic Lake Weir and is ready for development. The 1.59 acre parcel is listed by Joan Pletcher Realty at $349,900.
Meanwhile, the infamous historic home itself has been relocated to nearby Carney Island Recreation & Conservation, where it is soon to open to the public as a museum. The relocation of the property was a headline event in itself when it was floated across Lake Weir on a barge in late 2016.
The ‘Ma Barker House’ has had a wild history, including its recent move across Lake Weir by barge.
The Barker shootout became the stuff of legends. The 1960 film “Ma Barker’s Killer Brood” scores a lousy 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. The 1970 film “Bloody Mama” starring Shelley Winters, Robert De Niro and Bruce Dern currently has a 17% rating. The top rated film that included the story of the Barker gang was 2009’s “Public Enemies” starring Johnny Depp.
The two-story cracker home was the site of a shootout with the FBI in 1935 that left Kate ‘Ma’ Barker and her son, Fred, dead after four hours and thousands of bullets fired. The 61-year-old woman died with a Tommy gun in her hands, according to the FBI. A sneak-peak of the new museum is now available at MaBarkerHouse.org, which features 360-degree virtual tours of the rooms where Ma and Fred Barker were shot to death in the longest shootout in FBI history.
The interior of the Ma Barker house preserves the 1930’s-era decor.
“It’s a beautiful home with lots of history,” said Efren Vasquez, a web designer with Brick City Digital, which created the new website. “It was amazing seeing the bullet holes still on the walls and furniture as I walked through the house.”
These bullet holes in a rocking chair resulted from the 1935 shootout with FBI agents.
The Friends of the Bradford-Ma Barker house, a not-for-profit corporation are working to restore the home and open it as a museum in early 2019. The purpose for opening the home to the public is to tell a story of how the good guys won. This was one of the FBI’s greatest success stories. The Barker/Karpis gang was one of the last remaining active gangs in the United States when J. Edgar Hoover set his sights on destroying all organized crime in the country. When he named the Barker/Karpas gang as “Public Enemy No. 1” the Barker’s knew it was time to lay low, so they retreated to Ocklawaha where they thought they would never be found.
“Gator Joe” was the clue that led authorities to the hideout. The name of the famous local alligator was included on a map found in the possession of one of Kate’s sons when he was arrested in Chicago.
Many of the bullet holes have been repaired, but a few still scar the walls of the house.
For more information, visit MaBarkerHouse.org and take a 360° tour through the house and see bullet holes in the walls and original furniture still in the home. The website also has information about sponsorship opportunities, private tours and will post announcements about the museum opening in 2019.