My favorite part about visiting the Ringling was without a doubt the Ca’ d’Za, the home of John and Mable Ringling. As travel enthusiasts, the Ringlings developed a great appreciation for European art, particularly the architecture in Venice including the Ca'd'Oro. When the couple decided to build their estate after spending many winters in Sarasota, they wanted to transform the Sarasota Bay into the Grand Canal. They called upon famous architect Dwight James Baum, who spent about two years building the Venetian style estate for 1.5 million starting in 1924.
At 36,000 square feet, the estate would rival the Breakers in Newport. The building is made of terra-cotta and stucco and was embellished with mostly 16th century Spanish tile at the time. It has five stories and a full basement that are decorated as opulently as the outside. The Ringlings furnished their home with none other than paintings by masters like Sorine and Mazo, exquisite fine china collected during their travels overseas, a crystal chandelier from the original Waldorf Astoria, and even an Aeolian organ. The house was in disrepair for many years due to lack of funds (which is why it was used as Miss Havisham's mansion in the 1996 movie of Great Expectations), but has most definitely been restored to its former glory.
It's truly a breath taking sight!
Stay tuned for the last section.