There’s a dash of intrigue behind the home at 171 S. Washington Drive on St. Armands Circle that’s now on the market for $11,995,000. There are rumors that John Ringling’s mistress used to live on the property. That original home was demolished and the current two-story mansion that stands there today was built in 2006. And get this–according to the Sarasota County appraiser, it was occupied by mortgage fraudster Craig R. Adams, who was sentenced to three years in federal prison in 2011 and ordered to pay $25 million in restitution after cutting a deal with the FBI.

Even though that alleged mistress’s home is long gone, this latest remodel's Old World decor fits the home's history. Rumors wouldn't linger as long against glass and polished concrete, but they can curl up in the folds of those window treatments.

“The home is pretty much the way they built it. We just furnished it. We loved it just the way it was,” says current owner Lee Schoenherr, who lives there with his wife Joan.

The Schoenherrs split their time between Sarasota and Michigan, where his business, FloraCraft, is based. The company produces that hidden green block material that holds the stems in the bottom of flower arrangements. It's grown since he started it when he was 25 years old and now has two production plants, one in California and one in Mexico. Today, more than 60 years later, he’s chairman of FloraCraft's board.

Schoenherr fell in love with the area back in 1979 when he used to play tennis at the now-vanished Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. When he first toured the home in John Ringling Estates on St. Armands Key, he thought, “It's more money than I wanted to spend," he says. "But I ended up buying it."

Schoenherr paid $7.4 million for the home in 2007. At the time, it was listed for $9.8 million.

The home is loaded with dark mahogany, corbels, wrought iron, sconces and chandeliers. It may be a little dated in the eyes of today’s buyers, but its strong bones can be dressed in any of the latest fashions. And some of the Old World style elements beg to remain—like the neck-craning focal point of Venetian plaster flowers sculpted in the ceiling over the dining room table.

In fact, many of the ceilings throughout the home have something special going on, such as the domed cathedral-style ceilings in the hallway and the gleaming cypress box beams in the foyer.

The 13,062-square-foot property is surrounded on two sides by water with more than 300 feet of waterfront on a protected bayou with bay views. Just 10 minutes from the Intracoastal waterway, the dock is large enough to house a 60-foot yacht, which is exactly what the Schoenherrs did. During the holidays when the family would visit, some of the kids slept in it.

The house has four bedrooms–the main one is 1,700 square feet–four full bathrooms, two half baths, a theater, an 875-bottle wine cellar, a game room, an office, separate quarters for staff, a main kitchen and a catering kitchen. Terraces overlook the water and an infinity-edge pool with waterfalls. There's also an elevator.

So with so much luxury and space, why move?

"We've reached an age—I won't tell you what it is, but it's in the 80s—where it's an awful lot of room for us and the upkeep is a lot," Schoenherr says. He and Joan are moving to the Sarasota Bay Club, where "they'll have amenities and services we won't have to worry about as we get older. We're selling, but it's going to be a sad day when we leave." 

Interested? Contact Bruce Myer of Coldwell Banker Realty at 941-387-1847.

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