Posts made in March 4th, 2011

Our last day on Longboat

It’s our last day on Longboat Key, and I can’t believe how fast the week went by. Like every year, I get here and think, “Wow, a whole week! It’s only Saturday, and we have seven more days!” And then, suddenly, it’s Friday, and I think, “Wow. Now how did that happen?” Rats.

A photo from our first sunset last Saturday:

I know I said I was going to update you on the outcome of Hermann Kohl’s national bootlegging trial this week, but that’s a little too time-intensive for my last day of vacation. Instead, I thought I’d just upload a few photos from the field trip that my mom and I took today. Even though it was a perfect, sunny beach day, I really wanted to see the John and Mable Ringling Museum, so that’s what we did. Well… kind of. We actually never made it to the museum because we were too enthralled with Ca d’Zan (“House of John”), the Ringlings’ waterfront mansion on Sarasota Bay.

What a great and tragic love story. John and Mable both came from humble beginnings, but soon became one of the wealthiest couples in America. They were married in 1905, and began work on Ca d’Zan in 1924. Under the artistic direction and ever-watchful eye of Mable, it was completed two years later, in 1926.

In 1927, John and Mable decided to begin construction of a museum to house their ever-growing art collection. John had acquired several hundred valuable works of art while traveling Europe in search of new circus acts.

Sadly, Mable died on June 8, 1929 from complications of Addison’s disease and diabetes. She was only 54 years old. She had spent only three years in the Venetian-inspired palace she had helped design and build.

John was devastated by Mable’s death. Only four months later, the great stock market crash of 1929 hit and the Florida land boom went bust. Times were hard for the Ringling Brothers’ Barnum & Bailey Circus, and John had been a bit reckless in his financial dealings. Construction of the Ritz-Carlton hotel he’d been building on Longboat Key was halted permanently. It stood vacant for almost 40 years before it was finally torn down in 1964. (Today, it is the site of the Longboat Key Club resort.)

John had to borrow money to complete the construction of Mable’s beloved art museum. In October 1931, “The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art” was officially opened to the public. Five years later, John Ringling bequeathed his art collection, Ca d’Zan mansion and entire estate to the people of the State of Florida.

Read much more about the Ringlings and their art museum at this link:

Joy at the main entrance to Ca d'Zan (House of John)

Mable picked out the colors of the window panels which glow from every room of the house

John and Mabel had no children, but considered their two pet birds as children

The Tap Room saw a lot of action, even though it was the Prohibition era

Joy and Kathy on back patio of Ca D'Za

Marble staircase leading out to Sarasota Bay

Kathy showing off the waterfront side of Ca d'Zan

Railing detail on marble staircase

Mable Ringling's Secret Garden

Final resting place of John and Mable Ringling, and John's sister, Ida Ringling North. (We wondered where Mr. North was... I'll have to get to the bottom of that.)

Until next time… we’ll miss you Longboat Key! XOXO

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