John Ringling made his first fortune in the circus business, but he also made a few more fortunes in railroads, oil and real estate. Apparently, like Henry Flagler on the east coast of Florida, John Ringling had high hopes and extraordinary vision for the future of the west coast of Florida.
Before there was much development or population along Florida’s southwest coast beyond Tampa, Ringling built a magnificent estate (and art museum – more on that later) on the waterfront of what was to become Sarasota.
Here’s a view of the mansion, built in the 1920s:
We were really impressed with the grounds. In fact, we opted to walk the gardens, rather than tour the mansion house.
The banyan trees were huge.
And Dale really liked the rose garden.
We eventually made our way around the exterior of the mansion, down to the waterfront. Here’s Ringling’s dock – he came to the estate by water since there was no railroad south of Tampa until later.
And here’s the view of the house behind me that Dale had from the dock.