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Victorian mansion once barged across Tampa Bay hits the market in Ruskin for $2.4 million

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By: Susan Taylor Martin, Times Senior Correspondent, Tampa Bay Times

RUSKIN — A century-old Victorian mansion, once slated for demolition, then barged across Tampa Bay to a new life as a Wall Street Journal House of the Year, is again on the market.Known as Lamb Manor after original owner Asa Lamb, the 8,500-square-foot Queen Anne-style home with guest house is listed at $2.4 million.

The property “is a magical place … reminiscent of Old Florida,” Jennifer Zales, the Coldwell Banker listing agent, said in an email Tuesday.

The main home, a Victorian fantasy with turrets and lattice work, was built in 1910 in Palmetto. Developers planned to tear it down in 2006, but agreed to sell it to George and Nancy Corbett for $1 on the proviso that they move it. They did, paying about $250,000 to barge it 25 miles across the bay to land they owned on the Little Manatee River.

The Corbetts, who restored historic houses, set out to turn the four-bedroom Lamb Manor into a guest retreat like the one they already ran in Lake Toxaway, N.C., according to a Journal story last year. The couple spent $2.4 million or so adding several rooms, an elevator that came out of the Woolworth estate in Palm Beach, a home theater and a palm-lined lagoon with waterfall.

Inside, the Corbetts filled the house with antique pieces including a dining room mantel from a European castle, arched windows from an 1800s-era church in Washington, D.C., and crown molding from a ballroom in Asheville, N.C. An armoire in one bedroom was found in a Pennsylvania barn.

But after getting the house listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Corbetts decided it was too difficult running two retreats at the same time. In 2014, they put the house on the market for $5 million. That caught the attention of the Journal, which profiled Lamb Manor in its online House of the Day feature. It went on to win the Journal’s 2015 House of Year Award by a vote of more than 600,000 readers.

The eventual buyers, though, first saw the mansion while browsing on Zillow.

“It jumped out to us as one of the most beautiful homes that we had ever seen,” Alysson Yohn said by email. “We could easily imagine it as the perfect fit for our family and for our dreams. Plus, with private grounds and a guest house, it would afford us the opportunity to continue to open our home to pastors and missionaries, as we had done at our home in Colorado.”

The Yohns didn’t think they could afford the house, but Corbett dramatically lowered the price when he heard of the couple’s plans for the property, the Journal said. Yohn and husband, Richard, an executive with a Houston-based energy company, are selling because of a job transfer.

With seven bedrooms and six and a half bathrooms, the house could be used as a bed-and-breakfast, vacation rental or wedding venue, Zales said. It is about equidistant from Tampa and the Sarasota-Bradenton areas.

Listed at more than twice the $1.15 million that the Yohns paid, Lamb Manor is among several properties that are transforming Ruskin into a destination for luxury home buyers. Zales was the agent for two mansions on nearby Dickman Island, one that sold for $5.55 million in 2014 and the other that went for $2.755 million last year.