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Ca' d'Zan: The Palatial Winter Mansion of John and Mable Ringling in Sarasota, Florida

The southern states have a charm all their own. From beaches to deserts, there is a wide array of landscapes to please almost anyone!

View of the Outside of The Ca' d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, United States

View of the Outside of The Ca' d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, United States

Ca' d'Zan in Sarasota, Florida

Unlike Europe, few homes are called palaces in the United States. The John and Mable Ringling winter home in Sarasota, Florida, would certainly qualify as such. Ca' d'Zan, which means "House of John" in the Venetian dialect, is the title for this stately 30-room home.

My mother and I were visiting with my aunt and uncle who reside in Florida part of the year. They decided to show us this home, the Ringling Museum of Art, and the Circus Museum, which are all contained on the grounds of this massive estate.

The side of a home facing the water is most often the most elaborate, and Ca' d'Zan does not disappoint. This mansion (built in 1927) sits on the waterfront of Sarasota Bay. The West Facade of Ca' d'Zan is spectacular! Intricate marble flooring and carved decorated railings would have greeted the guests arriving by boat.

Few people except the very wealthiest could have had a home like this constructed. A circus empire helped create the wealth that the Ringling's enjoyed. John Ringling became one of the wealthiest people on earth back in that time.

The address: 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, Florida 34243

360 Degree View of Exterior of The Ringling Mansion by the Water.

Ringling Mansion

Many architectural styles—including Italian Renaissance, Venetian Gothic, Baroque, as well as modern—merged to create this grand palace commissioned by John and Mable Ringling for their winter home.

The vast 66-acre estate contains beautiful gardens and museums. The Ringling Museum of Art and later the Circus Museum were additions to these landscaped grounds.

The estate (including the mansion, grounds, museums, and contents) now belongs to the State of Florida for the benefit of its citizens after the demise of John Ringling. Mable had preceded him in death. Both of their graves are on the grounds near the 27,225 square foot beautifully designed garden.

The legacy left behind for everyone to enjoy consists of a beautiful collection of elegant furnishings and art as well as the architecture consisting of intricate designs and artistry.

We were visiting there in 1997, and at that time, Ca' d'Zan was being restored to return to its 1920s appearance. Everywhere one looks, details emerge.

  • The Court, which is the magnificent 30-foot-high living room, is pretty much the focal point of the house with the other rooms organized around it.
  • Onyx-faced columns on the first floor become covered with terracotta on the second floor.
  • Ceilings are works of art. Elaborate designs of paint and inlaid tile and other materials have one gazing up.
  • Windows are a colorful mixture of stained glass with unique designs.
  • Gorgeous wood paneling is used in many places throughout the mansion.
  • The furnishings and paintings were the best that money could buy and fill each room with beauty and a sense of luxury.

Many of the rooms are open for public viewing. Prepare to be overwhelmed with opulent views of how the Ringlings lived.

Events Held on The Ringling Mansion Patio

This historic building is now utilized for many events, including such things as regularly scheduled teas, lunches, etc., on the bayside patio.

Memberships are available for purchase, and one can enjoy the ambiance of living like the very wealthy if even for merely a moment in time.

I hope that you enjoyed this look at the stately winter home of John and Mable Ringling in Sarasota, Florida. If you have visited this attraction, please leave impressions of your visit in the comment section below. Thanks!

Narrated Tour of the John Ringling Mansion with Some Background Information


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2015:

Hello Barbara P.,

So nice that you have gotten to enjoy visiting those magnificent places in Florida. The Ringling mansion is indeed grand and all 3 places...including the museums are well worth a visit if ever in that area. Thanks for your comment.

Barbara P.-Punta Gorda,FL on April 27, 2015:

Going on the tour of the home of John and Mabel Ringling was a delight and what a spectacular place it was. The area surrounding was magnificent and you could imagine all the good times that were had there. The circus museum and the art museum were spectacular. That it is available to the public to enjoy and be part of their history is something you treasure.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 27, 2012:

Hello RM,

I added a couple more videos showing the fabulous John and Mable Ringling mansion as well as a video at the end showing what his brother Charles also built in Sarasota and the influence they had on this town in Florida. Hope you come back and enjoy!

RM on January 26, 2012:

Very much enjoyed the tour but would like to have seen more of the house. Iam sure they had live in servents and would like to see where they stayed.The house and grounds are beautiful really something to see.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 04, 2010:

Hello GmaGoldie,

Visiting the palatial winter home of John and Mable Ringling in Sarasota, Florida...it was easy to see where some of the profits from the Ringling Brother's Circus were spent. Nice that their home and fabulous art museum can now be enjoyed by the public.

I had never heard that quote before by Kin Hubbard. Good one! Thanks!

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on November 04, 2010:

Oh, such fun - almost as fun as the circus.

"Next to a circus there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out any quicker than the Christmas spirit”

Kin Hubbard quotes (American Humorist and Writer, 1868-1930)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 15, 2010:

Hello sarasota-florida,

I would definitely agree. Anyone visiting Sarasota, Florida should set aside a day to tour the Ringling Home and adjoining Fine Art as well as Circus Museum on the adjoining property. Well worth the time spent! Thanks for the comment.

sarasota-florida from Sarasota Florida on September 15, 2010:

C`a d'Zan is amazing. It is a must see when visiting Sarasota.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 12, 2009:

Hello Dink96,

Great quote and appropriate to the winter home of John and Mable Ringling in Sarasota. Imagine their summer home was equally lavish. Thanks for the comment.

Dink96 from Phoenix, AZ on September 12, 2009:

Absolutely breathtaking. "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a pleasure dome decree..."

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 09, 2009:

You nailed it on the head, Jama. A palace.....yes! And marble in the bathrooms.......of course! Every aspect of the home is filled with the best building materials and embellished with luxurious attention to every detail. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on May 09, 2009:

Wowww.... I had no idea such a place existed in the U.S. This definitely rivals palaces in Europe, which was the idea I'd guess. The bay side brings to mind a palazzo on Lake Como. The bathtub we saw so much of in the video was carved out of marble, right? Ah, what one can do when money is no object...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2009:

Hello kiran,

As to living this way.......only the few and the super rich get to do it. The rest of us gaze with wonder.

Hello shamelabboush,

No argument there...the architecture is amazing!

Hello Tom,

Nice for the folks in Florida and visitors that they now can enjoy some of the ambiance of experiencing these riches for brief moments in time. As to living in a place like that full time...hard to imagine for most of us.

Thanks to all of you for your comments.

Tom rubenoff from United States on May 07, 2009:

Indeed a palace. The photos are breathtaking. It's hard to imagine living on such a scale!

shamelabboush on May 06, 2009:

The architect of this place is amazing. Very nice.

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on May 06, 2009:

WoW ! Amazing the way people live ! Excellent details and pictures , thanks a lot :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 06, 2009:

Hi G-Ma,

Yes, money can buy amazing things. No doubt about it! And the Ringlings built an empire from circus money. Those of us with less (which is the vast majority of us) can at least have glimpses of what they enjoyed. It is wonderful that they bequeathed this estate so that it can be enjoyed by the masses who are not privy to such everyday luxuries. Thanks for your comments.

Merle Ann Johnson from NW in the land of the Free on May 06, 2009:

Beautiful structures...and what Money can't buy..Is amazing and the dark colors and the georgeous paintings,boy what fun it could be to decorate with money available...and no wonder they had maids and such...the chandleiers alone woweeee this was very interesting thanks...G-Ma :O) Hugs

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