May 3rd we moved from Disney World to Sarasota Florida for a two night stay. The main attraction was the 66 acre estate of John and Mable Ringling which includes a Circus Museum housed in two buildings: The Tibbals Learning Center, and the Museum of the American Circus (a third building is under construction to house exhibits of circus performers); the Ringling mansion Ca’ d’ Zan meaning “House of John”; a Museum of Art; and, the Historic Asolo Theatre.
The pictures will be shown in two enteries to our trip journal: The Ringling Estate (this entry) and The Circus Museum.
John Ringling was one of seven brothers; five were involved in the circus business with John as the advance man, traveling ahead to book appearances. Starting with their first show in 1870, they grew large enough to travel on railroad cars by 1889 and in 1907 they purchased Barnum and Bailey. In 1929 they bought the American Circus Corporation and owned every traveling circus in America.
Our first stop was the Tibbals Learning Center to see the Howard Brothers Circus Model, a replica built in ¾-inch-to-the-foot scale representing The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919 to1938. The model was created by Howard Tibbals a master model builder and philanthropist over a period of 50 years. Billed as “The world’s largest miniature circus” the model has eight main tents, 152 wagons, 1300 circus performers and workers, more than 800 animals and a 59 car train. It occupies 3800 square feet. It was a fascinating exhibit and the highlight of the day.
Maryann and her brother remember the Ringling Brothers Circus visits to Erie PA. Her brother said he used to go and help with the animals when the circus came to town.
The Museum of Art is recognized as one of the top 20 in the nation.
The Historic Asolo Theatre was created in Asolo, Italy in 1798. In the 1930s the decorative panels were removed and later purchased as an artifact for the Museum. When restoration was completed in 2006, “America’s only 18th-century European theater” was housed in a new pavilion just inside the gates of the Ringling Estate.
Ringling left his estate and art collection to the people of the State of Florida and in 2000 the state transferred stewardship to Florida State University.
NOTE: I’m posting this update from our home in Mesa, AZ on June 18th. Our summer trip ended in St Augustine Florida when Maryann tripped on a cracked sidewalk May 31st and injured her right knee (broken anvil bone as we learned when we got back home). Fortunately, the east end of I-10 is at Jacksonville FL about 45 miles from St Augustine so we got on I-10 and headed west on June 2nd.
Maryann is doing well, she saw our orthopedic surgeon yesterday and is now on an exercise plan flexing the knee joint. We see the surgeon again July 13th and if she has recovered sufficient knee action he will release her from further care – which means we’ll be heading north to Colorado shortly thereafter to be in cool country for the remainder of the summer.