Historic Manatee County inn sold

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SARASOTA-- This area's oldest, operating inn has been sold, after nearly two years on the real estate market.

The Villa Serena Inn on Willow Street in Sarasota was recently sold for $900 thousand to Bradenton resident Steven Levin. Levin, who used to own the historic Colonial Theater in Keene, New Hampshire says he is ready for the new challenge.

"It's unique. There aren't many structures that are on the National Register of Historic Places. That was extremely appealing," said Levin.

12 tenants currently live at the inn. Over the last few decades, Villa Serena has seen its fair share of famous residents, including sports legends Babe Ruth and Bobby Jones. Both would play golf directly across the street at what was then named the Whitfield Estates Country Club. It is now the Sara Bay Country Club.

"It was built to house wealthy snowbirds from the north who came south in the winter. They were housed in luxury here," said Christopher Brown.

Brown owned the property for the last 16-years. He is moving to Pennsylvania to start a new chapter of his life.

"This place is just beautiful. I feel fortunate to live here and have for that amount of time. It's like coming home to a palace," said Brown.

Levin's goal is to keep the building a palace by preserving its historic charm. In the meantime, he must replace an old roof. He also has plans to build a swimming pool, similar to the one Ruth and Jones used to swim in on the property all those years ago.

Villa Serena was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2000.