HERNANDO COUNTY — The house doesn't have a drawbridge or a moat, but in other respects it bears a striking resemblance to a castle. And it is right here in Hernando County.
At least from the outside, the four-story mansion north of Brooksville would appear to be right out of the medieval age, with eight turrets dotting the façade.
The four-story home, owned by doctor George Sidhom, has 28,857 square feet of living space, plus auxiliary buildings on a total of 70 aces, according to the Hernando County Property Appraiser's Office.
But the Sidhom property is not the only local “castle” in Hernando County.
Hernando Today set out to find the five largest single-family residences in the area and learned they are spread from east to west.
By far, the Sidhom property is the largest home in the county.
On the property is a separate 3,200 square-foot home built in 1987. There have been add-ons through the years, including a 3,312-square-foot barn. But in 2011, Sidhom built the existing house, which sits on property commanding a beautiful view of a lake. It has six bedrooms and 12 bathrooms.
The assessed value of the home is $3.5 million.
Amenities include two elevators, seven fireplaces and a barbed wire fence around land on which cows graze.
The 5,000-square-foot garage is big enough for six or eight vehicles.
Two of the castle turrets are functional, with staircases. The other two are decorative. There's also a basketball court at the rear of the house.
Kevin Johnston, valuation services administrator with the property appraiser's office, said he was surprised when Sidhom originally submitted plans for the home. But he understands why people would want to build such mansions here.
“I just think you get more bang for your buck in Hernando County,” Johnston said. “You can build a larger home here and it won't cost you as much as in Hillsborough County or Pinellas County.”
The Sidhom house is almost as large as New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter's $12 million, 30,875-square-foot waterfront estate on Davis Islands near downtown Tampa.
“Some people want the rural atmosphere and that's something we can offer here,” Johnston said.
Ana Trinque, president of the Hernando County Association of Realtors, said she knows a couple people on the newspaper's top five largest homes list. They told her it's all about the serenity and seclusion of Hernando County, where they could build their dream home surrounded by woods and ample acreage.
“They feel secure, probably more secure than if they were in Tampa,” Trinque said.
Trinque said many residents may be surprised that such palatial estates exist in Hernando but they are well-known to area builders and real estate agents. It's no surprise that many of the largest houses are close to major transportation arteries, including Interstate 75 and the Suncoast Parkway, so they can get to their jobs or do business in the urban areas faster, she said.
Here's a look at the next four biggest homes in Hernando County:
♦ The second largest is owned by doctor Mark Alagna in the Wedgewood Estates section of Weeki Wachee. The house has 12,151 square feet under the roof and was built in 1993.
There are amenities on the property including decks, two fireplaces and a 780-square-foot swimming pool.
The home is assessed at $742,410. It has five bathrooms and five bedrooms.
♦ Coming in third is an 8,952-square-foot home off Osowaw Boulevard in Spring Hill. Owned by lawyer Peter Napolitano, the home has an assessed value of $1 million.
There is 11,557 square feet of auxiliary structures on the site, including porches, garages, lanais and an 8,457-square-foot garage.
The home was built in 2007, and has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms.
♦ The fourth-largest house in Hernando is east of Ridge Manor, not far from the Sumter County line. The 8,796-square-foot home is owned by Rodney Howard-Browne.
Built in 1989, it has five bedrooms, six bathrooms and a 760-square-foot concrete swimming pool.
The home has an assessed value of $536,477.
♦ The fifth largest home is owned by J. Thomas Bronson, son of mining official and developer Thomas Bronson, and is in Brooksville.
The five-bedroom, five-bath home has 8,185 square feet, three fireplaces and stands on 7 acres.
The home is valued at $490,187.