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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

For sale: Quirky rock 'n' roll B&B

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Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2014 at 12:07 AM

ST. PETERSBURG — One doesn't expect to come across a massive portrait of Jim Morrison hanging above the mantel in a 114-year-old, 4,200-square-foot Old Northeast mansion, let alone rows of signed guitars furnished by the likes of George Clinton.

Or a coffin. Not a used one, but one that goes on display around Halloween.

Owner Brent Bruns II, 42, of National Geographic Channel reality show “Doomsday Castle” fame, was hoping to offer travelers a rock 'n' roll-themed bed-and-breakfast experience in the massive yellow house and two cottages the property comprises. Its low-key, eccentric vibe and themed rooms (including an elaborately decorated Woodstock suite) give the place the feel of a hostel, despite standing among the lofty condo towers and gleaming restored homes that constitute downtown's tourist accommodations.

The property at 121 Fifth Ave. N., which currently offers short-term rentals, is in foreclosure.

On Sunday, Bruns will auction off everything on the property — the guitars, the art, the flat-screen TVs and the house itself.

“Rock 'n' roll mansion has been kind of a process for the past three years,” he said. “I've done everything from rentals by the month to Airbnb (a Web site) to auctioning it off.”

He bought the building in 2010 for about $270,000 and enlisted local muralists Derek Donnelly and Sebastian Coolidge to cover the walls.

The “Elvis” cottage features the King's likeness in black, white and shades of blue. Above the bed in the Beatles room, the image from the cover of the 1964 album “Beatles for Sale” is stenciled. The floors of the Woodstock cottage are covered with near-blindingly bright-colored duct tape laid out in geometric patterns, and its walls feature psychedelic images evocative of the legendary festival, including, for some reason, a pterodactyl.

The guitars come courtesy of the former owner of Jannus Landing — now known as Jannus Live — and each is signed by an act that played at the venue, including Clinton, the Flaming Lips, Blues Traveler, Bush and Reel Big Fish.

“This is extraordinary in the sense that these guitars are all somewhat collectible,” said John Harris, whose company, Harris Auctions, is handling the auction. “I don't know how to top this as far as a collection within a property.”

The place was great for people in need of furnished accommodations for a month or two while moving to or away from the area, like former Palm Harbor residents Bob and Sue DePalo. The retired engineer and lawyer, respectively, sold everything they own, including several homes, and are spending seven weeks in the Beatles room before they head across the Atlantic.

“We're just going to wander around until we can't walk anymore,” DePalo said.

A few things got in the way of the full realization of Bruns' vision of a rock 'n' roll bed and breakfast, though.

He had trouble obtaining the proper permits from the city and developed an addiction to pain medication. He said he and some friends were taking copious amounts of “roxies,” an instant-release form of oxycodone. Had he not been invited to rural South Carolina for the filming of “Doomsday Castle,” he said, he might have died; two of his friends overdosed while he was gone.

The show featured his father, Brenton Bruns Sr., and several of Brenton Sr.'s 10 children who were helping him construct an end-of-days fortress in a remote, mountainous area of South Carolina. Bruns II, the eldest of the 10, said it's exactly what he needed.

“I call it doomsday rehab,” he said. “I'm so happy I went away.”

While away, he was a bit incommunicado, and business suffered. There was some mismanagement, he said, and some tenants got behind on their rent. He got behind on mortgage payments, and foreclosure ensued. He hopes to wash his hands of the venture, he said, and get into the field of medical marijuana growing with help from the auction proceeds.

“I hope the house sells for enough to get me a good restart,” Bruns said.

In addition to the property and its contents, Bruns said he will sell his Facebook page, I Love Downtown St. Petersburg, which has about 46,500 followers.

The auctioning of the contents of the house will be noon Sunday at Nova 535, an event space at 535 Martin Luther King Jr. St. The auction of the mansion and two cottages will be at the property, 121 Fifth Ave. N.

“The interesting thing is going to be the property,” Harris said. “What's the mansion going to go for? Everyone's guessing.”

kbradshaw@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-7999

Twitter: @kbradshawTBO

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