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And throughout the 70's, Muriel Vanderbilt (the great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the famous railroad tycoon) built and resided in what is still referred to as ‘The Vanderbilt Estate'. She turned the 80 acres surrounding the mansion into a serene and picturesque horse farm, where she bred race horses. Most notable of the horses bred here is the U.S. Riding Hall of Fame inductee, Desert Vixen.
A successful businessman and his wife, purchased the Vanderbilt property. In order to build an oversized runway to accommodate their aircraft, they also acquired an additional 450 acres surrounding the Vanderbilt Estate. They flew in exotic animals, including several hundred crocodiles and snakes, 3 white rhinos, 17 elephants, and even a gorilla named Mickey. They further developed the Vanderbilt Estate with the addition of a ballroom, elephant and rhino barns, a pool & pool house, as well as a gym fully equipped with original Nautilus Exercise Machines which he himself, famously invented! With all of this, they made the property into somewhat of a celebrity destination.
In 1984, the couple flew to Africa to rescue 63 baby elephants and bring them back to the property in Ocala. The successful rescue, entitled 'Operation Elephant' was featured on ABC's 20/20. It was from this rescue that the property earned its name. 'JUMBO' (which of course means large in size) referred to ‘Jumbo’, the PT Barnum elephant; and is also the perfect nod to the 'Jumbo jets' which were on the property. 'LAIR' by definition means a place where a wild animal lives; or where one takes refuge.
Hence the name, JUMBOLAIR.
The animals thrived here at Jumbolair for several years up until 1989, when the couple divorced. At that point, the animals were donated to parks and zoos where they could happily live out the remainder of their lives. Jumbolair itself was kept private until the late 90's, when plans were made in order to turn a portion of the property into an upscale residential aviation community. And in 2001, Jumbolair Aviation Estates was founded.
Yes, its true... John Travolta actually purchased the first lot in Jumbolair Aviation Estates on which he built his home in 2002. Over the next several years, lots were sold in Phase 1 and beautiful Estate Homes were built. During this time, the Vanderbilt Estate was primarily used as a venue for weddings and other events including car shows and fly-ins. The mansion itself functioned as a bed and breakfast for a time and several celebrities even came to stay. However, in 2013, due to economic reasons, the development and the Vanderbilt property were sold. The new owner built a stunning estate home in the community, but beyond that, further development was somewhat halted; and the remaining available lots were taken off of the market. And in 2019, the property was listed for sale once again.
The Jumbolair Aviation Estates Development, along with the Vanderbilt Estate and additional surrounding property, was purchased in early 2021. The property was the perfect setting to combine Aviation and Equestrian lifestyles. The vision and the plan to build Jumbolair Aviation & Equestrian Estates into a thriving community where the residents could share common goals and interests was immediately put into motion. And in just over a year’s time, the transformation that has taken place is truly remarkable!
Jumbolair Aviation & Equestrian Estates
8400 Northeast Jacksonville Road, Ocala, Florida 34479, United States
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