In 1951, “The African Queen” debuted on the big screen and earned four Oscar nominations. Nearly seven decades later, a home dubbed “The African Queen” in the unlikely locale of Springfield, MO, has floated onto the market for $8.9 million.
Time will tell if the home is as successful as the iconic film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. The movie inspired Michael Willhoit, who needed a place to showcase the artwork and animal skins he collected from across Africa. He also needed a project.
“I lost my dad, brother, and mom in the same year,” says Willhoit. “I needed something to busy myself into.” And busy himself he did.
Willhoit and his wife, Lisa, purchased the property on a creek in 2013. It was a 1961 residence designed by local architect Don Russell, and the Willhoits had wanted it for a decade before finally acquiring it.
“It was just a run-down house that had a lot of potential. We got involved and got psyched up,” Willhoit says of their renovation, which took about two years (and some serious dough). Locals were curious about the ongoing construction at the “mystery house.”
In the home you’ll find a 3,000-pound elephant sculpture from Thailand, a 3,000-pound bronze rhino from London, and an African warrior statue standing guard. The bar stools were made from zebras, and an eight-legged zebra chair was custom-made for Willhoit.
The surprises don’t stop there. There’s a toilet shaped like a lion, light fixtures made of horns and tusks, and a leopard skin couch from Paris. Wooden, carved tusks frame the master bed. And a 500,000-piece mosaic wood floor features a 17-foot-long crocodile in the kitchen.
You’ll also be amazed by the 2-inch-thick glass floor in Willhoit’s office, which sits over a creek, allowing you to see fish swim underneath your feet.
“The pictures don’t do it justice,” Willhoit says. “When you pull up to the electric gates, it’s like entering a different world.”
The 3,300-square-foot home sits on 4 acres and has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It comes with everything visible in the listing photos. A buyer can begin an African safari without ever leaving the home.
Alex O’Brien of Housekey Flat Fee Realty holds the listing.
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