Friday, January 10, 2014

The John Ringling Mansion - Sarasota, Florida

Built in the 1920s by John Ringling, of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and his wife, Mable, the Venetian-style mansion (named Cà d'Zan, meaning "House of John" in Venetian dialect), dominates 20 acres of Sarasota waterfront, accompanied by the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Recently restored to its original glory, the Ringling mansion was once left a wreck with a leaky roof.

Despite his great outward success, poor investments coupled with the general downturn of the Depression, left Ringling near penniless at the time of his 1936 death. Some news reports had his bank accounts totaling a mere $311. In an effort to save his beloved home, Ringling willed the property to the state of Florida.

By the late 1990s, the house and grounds were in a state of utter neglect.

Its depressing appearance seems to have inspired some action on the part of Florida, which transferred the property to Florida State University and provided more than $40M toward new building, renovations, and an endowment for the property. In 2002, a six-year renovation commenced, eventually costing upwards of $15M.

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