Beautifully patterned: Ca’ d’Zan at The Ringling

A beautifully symmetrical patterned walkway leads to Ca' d'Zan at The Ringling in Sarasota, Florida.

A beautifully symmetrical patterned walkway leads to Ca’ d’Zan at The Ringling in Sarasota, Florida.

It’s not just the miniature circus at The Ringling that draws tourists to dreamy Sarasota, Florida.  It’s also the lure of how the wealthy once lived.  And who doesn’t like a glimpse of the lavish lifestyles of the past?  If you’re visiting The Ringling, save time for a tour of the dramatic, highly patterned Ca’ d’Zan.

The imposing tower of Ca' d'Zan, former home of John and Mable Ringling.

The imposing tower of Ca’ d’Zan, former home of John and Mable Ringling.

Ca’ d’Zan (House of John), the historic home of John and Mable Ringling, stands tall at water’s edge. Inspired by the architecture of Venice’s iconic structures — Ducal Palace, Ca’ d’Oro, and the Grunwald Hotel, the Ringlings commissioned New York architect Dwight James Baum in 1924 to create a masterpiece incorporating European design motifs and the creative ideas of Mable Ringling. But as much time and effort that Mrs. Ringling poured into the home (completed in 1926), the time she actually spent living in it was cut short by her death three years afterward.

Stunning zig-zag patterns on the marble bayfront terrace complement arched windows and terra cotta ornamentation.

Stunning zig-zag patterns on the marble bayfront terrace complement arched windows, stained glass, mosaic panels, and terra cotta ornamentation.

The 36,00-square foot home, Ca’ d’Zan, is a study in patterns inside and out. Overall, the style is known as Venetian Gothic, evident in the typical arched windows and doors, layering of terra cotta tiles, and zig-zag patterns of imported marble in the bayfront terrace. Stained glass, mosaics, and graceful arches add to the ambiance of this showcase home.

Patterns repeat themselves inside, too.  Similar arched doorways, black and white tile floors, and ornamentation on stairwells and balustrades reveal an attention to detail and love of Italianate style.

Furniture pieces, frequently embellished with delicate hand painting, often utilize floral motifs similar to art of the old masters.  Don’t know marquetry from faux painting? Talented docents (some of the best we’ve encountered on historic home tours) willingly share their knowledge of styles and periods of architecture, ceramics, furniture, and art. (And answer questions!)

Hand-painted bed with gold leaf: Ca' d'Zan

Hand-painted bed with gold leaf: Ca’ d’Zan

Ca’ d’Zan stands with the best historic homes in America — European and Asian influence but a lavish, well-executed style all its own.  It’s definitely worth seeing when you visit the world of the Ringlings, even if it does make you realize that most of us live in ordinary abodes, compared to the stunning home of John and Mable!

A blend of patterned terra cotta tiles, mosaics, and twisted columns greet guests to Ca' d'Zan at The Ringling.

A blend of patterned terra cotta tiles, mosaics, and twisted columns greet guests to Ca’ d’Zan at The Ringling.

For more information:

Ca’ d’Zan, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, Florida, 34243; 941-359-5700; https://www.ringling.org/ca-dzan

Open daily 10-5; Thursdays ’til 8.

Boomer travel tip:  All areas on the tour of Ca’ d’Zan are accessible.  Tour guides are some of the best we’ve encountered — knowledgeable, yet approachable and patient with all who have questions!

20 thoughts on “Beautifully patterned: Ca’ d’Zan at The Ringling

  1. gallivance.net

    Rusha, your richly detailed photos are wonderful. I’m glad you were able to take interior shots. It really bugs me when photos aren’t allowed. This is an amazing gilded-age estate and the location is perfect. I particularly enjoyed the historical museum and all its circus paraphernalia. ~James

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Thanks for the lovely comment, James. If you and Terri haven’t visited The Ringling in Sarasota, be sure to put it on your list. An art gallery and extensive gardens also await you; we just didn’t allow enough time for all. But it’s classy, artsy, fun. Thanks for visiting via our pictures!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      You’re so right, Cindy. It was dazzling inside and out. And I learned a lot (some of which I can’t remember) about decor from the docent we had. He had actually written a book on Ca’ d’Zan!! Thanks for commenting.

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