Marion County’s attempt to purchase and restore the famous last hideout of Ma Barker was shot down earlier this week when Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the $250,000 the Florida Legislature approved for the purchase.
The money was set aside from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, the same fund that voters last year overwhelming voted to be used for land and water conservation and maintenance
The State Senate initially set aside $400,000 for the historic residence but later dropped $150,000 from the funding as part of the final budget negotiations. With major Republican support of the project it came as a shock that Scott vetoed the funding. Marion County plans to find funding from other sources to buy the property for $889,000. They plan to spend another $100,000 to turn the two-story house into a law enforcement museum.
The historic Lake Weir house was home to one of the longest shootouts in FBI history. Well over 1,500 rounds were shot into the house which Ma Barker and her son, Fred, were hiding out. The bullet holes have been plastered over but are still visible throughout the house. At the time of the shootout, Ma Barker was called "Public Enemy #1" by authorities, who were in the midst of a nationwide manhunt for her.
The home and ten acre property was put on the market for $1 Million a few years back but had no interest. The house has rarely been open to the public in the years since the 1935 shootout, the last time it was open for public tours it attracted over 5,000 people. The property, located near The Villages, has hosted numerous reenactments over the years. The property has remained in the same family, the Bradfords, since the house was originally built, Ma Barker was renting it. One family member, who helped keep an eye on the historic home, has built a newer home on the property.
Ocala Republicans are billing the hideout as a way to help boost local tourism, a major need in Ocala after the closure of Silver Springs as an amusement park. That Ocala area attraction was bought out by the state in late 2013 and all attractions, except for the famous glass bottom boats, were closed. It is now a state park
. Wild Waters, the water park at the entrance of Silver Springs, reopened earlier this month.
No word on when or where the funding for the Ma Barker hideout will come from now.