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Sarasota And The Ringling Legacy From The Roaring Twenties
Sarasota on Florida's Gulf coast is a delightful mix of modern high-rise condos and beautiful tree-lined avenues from a long-gone age. Recently in this coastal paradise, there has been a hankering to return to the nostalgia of the roaring twenties, a period during which Sarasota made its mark as a stylish and popular beach resort. The centrepiece of the recent roaring twenties era restoration around Sarasota is the Ca d'Zan mansion at the Ringling Museum.

Restored in 2002 at a cost of $15 million the Ca d'Zan is a marvellous example of a roaring twenties mansion. Situated on the water's edge of the 66 acre Ringling Museum estate, John and Mable Ringling's twenties winter residence has been returned to its original glory following its restoration. Originally built in 1926, the Ca d'Zan was designed to resemble a Venetian Gothic Palace, its construction masterminded by Mable Ringling, who ensured that the interior of the mansion was as extravagant and beautifully finished as the exterior. Mable died in 1929 at a relatively young 54, but her magnificent mansion lives on for all to enjoy.

John Ringling, one of seven siblings, made his fortune from his family circus business including the canny acquisition of Barnum Brothers circus, and from shrewd investments including a fine collection of old masters. His Sarasota Keys estate was bequeathed to the town as museum and the restoration of the Ca d'Zan mansion has provided an impressive centre-piece. It is officially recognised at the State Art Museum of Florida incorporating 21 galleries displaying European, American and Asian paintings. It also features a circus museum in tribute to Ringling, a learning center and the world's largest miniature circus. This is very much a hands-on museum, where every third Thursday in the month people are invited for cocktails on the Ca d'Zan's terrace, and where many Sarasota residents and visitors can enjoy lectures and take part in cultural workshops. The Ringling Museum also houses a teacher training facility, art conservation laboratory, art library and acres of parkland containing banyan and palm trees, along with a host of exotic and native plants.

However, there is more than just the Ringling Museum to see if you want a flavour of the roaring twenties. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Villa Serena Inn is Sarasota's only remaining Original Inn from the roaring twenties. It is included in the register due to its outstanding Mediterranean Revival architecture, featuring pastel coloured walls, white columns and originally designed in the style of a Venetian Palace. Sadly, not all hotels in Sarasota are this grandiose, but there is a fair selection if you are tempted to visit in the near future.
About the Author
Author of the article is Andrew Regan. For further information check: Hotels in Sarasota.
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