Historical Society plans Christmas tour of Ca’ d’Zan

October 7, 2016
By Marcy Shortuse

BY SUE ERWIN – Get in the holiday spirit with the Boca Grande Historical Society and join members as they tour the Ca’ d’Zan at the Ringling Art Museum in Sarasota.
The Ca’ d’Zan will be decorated especially for the holidays on Thursday, December 1.
The home was once the residence of the circus king John Ringling and his wife, a couple from humble mid-western origins. Inspired by and designed in the Venetian Gothic style of the palazzos that ring the Venice canals, this dazzling mansion perfectly captures the splendor and romance of the Italy the Ringlings so loved. To honor its owner, they named it Ca’ d’Zan, “House of John.”
The tour includes viewing private areas of the Ca’ d’Zan that will take participants to parts of the property not included in the regular public tour.
Historical Society Board Member Karen Grace is a co-chair of the education outreach historical oversight committee. Grace said Curator Ron McCarty will lead the tour.
“He is very knowledgeable about the history of the property,” Grace said. “He has seen just about everything at Ca’ d’Zan during his 35 years working there. He’s worked for 10 directors and was the museum’s point man with the contractor during the mansion’s restoration from 1995 to 2002. McCarty started his career at Ringling in 1980 managing collections,” Grace said.
The event will include a lecture and a lunch with a choice of items at the Muse (the museum restaurant now operated by former Gasparilla Inn General Manager Steve Seidensticker’s management group) and free time to visit any of the Ringling museums, including the new Asian exhibit.
The price of $125 includes a chartered bus round trip from Boca Grande and admission to the Ringling’s Holiday Splendor program from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. that evening. Please note, though, that any persons staying for the Holiday Splendor program will have to arrange their own transportation back to Boca Grande.
The bus will depart from Boca Grande at 8:15 a.m. and return at approximately 5:15 p.m. The tour is limited to 33 people, and payments are nonrefundable. Reservations may be made by calling the Boca Grande Historical Society at 941-964-1600. Payment is due at that time.
Also, please note that the tour of the Ca’ d’Zan will include places that include climbing stairs. Otherwise, trams will be provided for movement between the various areas of the Ringling grounds.
Grace said Tim and Rose Marie Blaha are members of the Ringling Museum and helped spearhead this event.
“Jim and I are on the board of the historical society and the education committee, so every year we try to do some kind of a trip to a historical museum or site in Florida. We thought this would be a good tour, and with it taking place in December it should be decorated beautifully,” Grace said.
U.S Trust is the sponsor of the event and also will be sponsoring the History Bytes events for the upcoming season.
The story of John and Mabel Ringling’s love for Sarasota, Italy and art began nearly a century ago. They were one of America’s wealthiest couples and traveled throughout Europe acquiring circus acts and art. John Ringling was one five brothers who owned the circus called “The Greatest Show on Earth.” His success with the circus and his entrepreneurial skills made him one of the richest men in America in the 1920s, with an estimated worth of nearly $200 million.