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The Ringling works toward $5 million goal to preserve historic Ca' d'Zan
Numerous capital and endowment gifts from individuals, foundations and government combine to support architectural treasure.


SARASOTA, FLA.- The Ringling has raised $1.97 million toward its $5 million goal to preserve and maintain Ca’ d’Zan, the palatial 36,000-square-foot winter residence of John and Mable Ringling completed in 1926. Inspired by the couple’s trips to Venice and sited on Sarasota Bay, Ca’ d’Zan was the embodiment of the American Dream in the Roaring Twenties. Preserving and enhancing Ca’ d’Zan is one of the key funding initiatives of The Ringling Inspires, the institution’s current capital campaign.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and welcoming more than 250,000 visitors annually from around the world, the five-story, 56-room Ca’ d’Zan is known for its enormous size, exuberant interpretation of the Venetian Gothic architectural style and sumptuous interior decorations and furnishings. Its architect, Dwight James Baum (1886-1939), was a major figure of the period, and the recipient of a gold medal from the Architectural League of New York.

“The Ringling now welcomes over 400,000 guests annually, many of whom visit our 66-acre campus specifically to see Ca’ d’Zan,” remarked Steven High, Executive Director, The Ringling. “The restoration and preservation of this magnificent home, one of the emblems of our institution and our nation’s cultural history, ensures that future generations will be able to experience and study this significant landmark.”

The Ringling has raised $1.125 million in capital funds toward the $3 million goal for infrastructure support of Ca’ d’Zan and the restoration of its glorious reflecting pool and historic 1925 Aeolian organ. $845,000 has also been secured toward the $2 million preservation endowment goal.

One of the two largest gifts to date is a $500,000 grant from the State of Florida’s Division of Historical Resources that has enabled the major restoration of the glazed terra cotta decoration of Ca’ d’Zan. This exterior terra cotta ornamentation is one of Ca’ d’Zan’s most distinctive features. However, due to its extensive exposure to salt water from the bay, the terra cotta has suffered structural failure caused by corrosion of its iron anchoring hardware. In addition to concerns regarding damage to the building, there was also the threat of injury due to falling pieces.

“We are grateful to the state’s Division of Historical Resources for its support of The Ringling’s historical and cultural treasures and The Ringling’s vision to become a leading international center for the arts,” said Tom Jennings, Ph.D., vice president for University Advancement and president of the FSU Foundation. “The Ringling attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and the support it receives from the state of Florida will help ensure it continues to educate and inspire tourists for years to come.”

The Bolger Foundation generously donated $500,000 to restore the Ca’ d’Zan pool, a signature feature of the home, in honor of the dedication of Ron McCarty, Keeper of Ca’ d’Zan, who will retire after more than 35 years of overseeing the mansion.

In addition, Cornelia and J. Richard “Dick” Matson have gifted $100,000 to restore John Ringling’s balcony, and The Linnie E. Dalbeck Memorial Foundation has pledged $25,000 towards overall preservation of the home.

Endowment support includes $320,000 from Susie Barbee and Vic Hotto; $250,000 from Hudson and Anne Smith; $225,000 from Dennis Pierce and David Schuler, longtime volunteers at Ca’ d’Zan; and $50,000 from Barbara Zdziarski.

“In order for this grand, popular and important legacy of architecture and design to be properly stewarded and protected, we must invest in its future,” said McCarty. “Serving as the custodian of this special place over the course of my career has been a tremendous privilege.”

The Ringling Inspires is a major component of Raise the Torch: The Campaign for Florida State, the most comprehensive fundraising campaign in University history. With a goal of $1 billion, Raise the Torch seeks to honor FSU’s strong tradition of excellence by creating a bright future for students, alumni and the entire University community.





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