I am going to enjoy life after 50 if it kills me!

Posts tagged ‘Ca’d’zan’

Florida Friday ~ Ca’d’zan

The winner in my “where should I soak up some Florida culture” is…

Ca’d’zan!

Translated from an Italian dialect – “The House of John”.  This John was John Ringling, who with his brothers owned “The Greatest Show on Earth”.  He was a smart investor and became quite wealthy, especially for a circus owner!  He and his wife Mabel owned a home up north, but loved Sarasota, Florida and built an opulent mansion on the waters of Sarasota Bay.

The home, which was budgeted for somewhere around $150,000, ended up costing over a million dollars, what with all the Italian art and furniture, the tapestries, the pipe organ, etc., etc.  Mabel had a love of beautiful things, which was evident in her rose garden.  (My daughter took beautiful photos of some of the roses, but is having technical difficulties sending them to me, so I have no visual proof of the exquisite blooms.  Ya gotta trust me on this one for now.)  At one time, the rose garden had been all but forgotten, so most of the plants are much newer than those Mrs. Ringling would have had, but the statues, the gazebo, and the pathways are all reminders of  Mabel’s influence on her home.  In addition, she was the first president of the Sarasota Gardening Club.

Mr. Ringling’s influences are evident as well.  The dining room is formal and dark – very masculine.  In the breakfast room, which overlooks the bay, John would seat guests he liked and thought of as prospective investors next to him facing the large windows overlooking the water.  If he wasn’t so keen on a guest, they got a seat with their back to the windows facing a rather ugly painting involving animals eating other animals if I remember the docent correctly!

Sadly, the Ringlings had only “wintered” in their mansion for a few years when Mabel died from complications of diabetes.  John did keep the home and return to it for several years.  The estate was given to the state of Florida, however the property was expensive to maintain.  I visited Ca’d’zan as a child when my family vacationed in Florida.  I have distinct memories of traveling the upstairs hall overlooking the main room and looking up to see the ceiling had been painted intricately.  When moving to Florida in 1995, I was sad to learn that the estate had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of being lost.  Fortunately, the estate was saved, restored, and is now a flourishing tourist attraction again.  Also included is an amazing art museum started by the Ringlings themselves, who were lovers of Italian art.  A circus museum is also open on the property.

If you get to the Sarasota area, make a point to peek into the lives of one of the famous Ringling Brothers!

Ringling Estate

 

Florida Friday – Mansions and More

This week has been my Spring Break.  Five glorious days to do with as I wish!  My daughter, also a teacher, and I decided to trek up to St. Petersburg to see the Dali Museum, which celebrates the work of Salvador Dali who is probably most famous for his melting clock painting, “The Persistence of Memory”.  There is so much more to his life’s work, however, and he was a pretty unusual guy, even for an artist!  The museum just reopened in a new location, and we tentatively made plans to visit.

http://thedali.org/

Then, over dinner Tuesday evening, we began talking with friends about  Ca’d’zan, the luxurious mansion built by John and Mabel Ringling, of the famous Ringling Brothers circus.  It’s located in Sarasota, right on the Gulf of Mexico.  The more we talked, the more we were sure THAT is what we wanted to see instead.

http://www.ringling.org/cadmansion.aspx

This led into discussions of Key West, St. Augustine, ghost tours, and I think the Henry Flagler mansion may have been thrown in at some point.  My daughter mused, “You know Mom, you always talk about how much there is to do up in New York, but there’s just as much to see and do here.  We just don’t do it.”  She’s smart, that girl of mine.

I’ll let you know which adventure we chose to take.  I’m writing this ahead of time because on Friday she and I will be at the South Florida Museum seeing Cross Creek, a movie about Marjorie Kinnen Rawlings, the author of The Yearling and Cross Creek, among others.  I’ll be too busy enjoying Florida to sit down and write about it!

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