Michael Willhoit, Springfield Businessman Behind “The African Queen” Home, Dies at 66

Michael Willhoit, the owner of Willhoit Enterprises and at one time the Springfield home known as “The African Queen”, has died at a Springfield area hospital.

Willhoit was 66.

Willhoit owned a home that he called “The African Queen” after the classic 1962 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Willoit and wife Lisa spent more than $3 million remodeling the house to have the African motif according to a 2015 interview with the Daily Mail.

The home contained a diplomystus fossil, estimated at 55 million years old, along with a 1787 map of Africa published by Emanuel Bowen and two seven foot tall hand-carved wood tusks estimated to be 120 years old.

Willhoit had made his income through the sale of high-end exotic cars.

The home was foreclosed upon in April by Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri. The bank currently has the home for sale through The Hancock Company for $1.375 million.

Rusty Newman of Freedom Bank confirmed Willhoit’s death to OI, adding that Willhoit was taken to the hospital on November 8 and died of “natural causes” on November 17.

Willhoit was still residing in “The African Queen” at the time of his illness and passing.

Willhoit had been indicted in June 2018 on 36 federal counts related to what prosecutors alleged was a $1.4 million bank fraud scheme. He was due to appear in court in July 2020 on the charges.

(Headline photo of the African Queen home from the Hancock Company’s real estate listing.)

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