My husband and I enjoyed a Sunday afternoon several weeks ago touring the grounds of the Ringling Estate and Museum in Sarasota. One of America’s wealthiest couples, John and Mable Ringling started building Ca’d’Zan in 1924 on a waterfront site 1,000 feet long and 3,000 feet deep along Sarasota Bay. The 36,000 square foot house is five stories tall, has a full basement and was completed in 1926 for the tidy sum of $1.5 million. The majority of the furnishings are original to the house and were collected from all over the world. Mable died within 3 years after its completion and John died in 1936. When he died he was virtually penniless after loosing the majority of his wealth in the Wall Street Crash of 1929. He bequeathed his estate to the people of Florida and it took years of legal battles with his creditors before the state possessed full ownership. For 10 years it was closed and reopened in 1946. Funds were difficult to come by to keep up the renovations and by the late 1990’s the house was used as the location for Miss Havisham’s decrepit mansion in the Hollywood remake of Charles Dickens’ classic Great Expectations, starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Bancroft and Robert De Niro. Following the filming of the movie the house was closed for major renovations at the cost of $15 million and reopened in 2002.
Through out the first floor the majority of ceiling murals were painted by Willy Pogany, the set decorator of the Ziegfeld Follies. While walking from the Great Hall to the entrance of the Breakfast Room I happened to look up and noticed the large lavender and tan “diamonds” painted as a backdrop to the intricate bird and leaf vine design. I cropped and straightened the shot and despite by best efforts, it just goes to show with age everything sags and settles a little!