This Tuesday, May 31, will mark the 150th birthday of John Ringling, one of Sarasota’s most notable business and arts entrepreneurs. Born one year after the Civil War in 1866, in the small farm town of McGregor, Iowa, Ringling grew up immensely interested in traveling circus shows. With great passion and tenacity, he and his brothers crafted their own show. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has become one of the best-known circuses of all time.
Ringling’s mastery of all things marketing, and his investments not only in the circus but the oil and railroad business made him a wealthy and successful business pioneer. In 1926, he moved to Sarasota to his “Ca d’Zan”—literally “House of John”—on the bayfront. Additionally, he began to build a Ritz-Carlton hotel, construct the Ringling Causeway, collect expensive fine art and host unforgettable parties. Though his life ended in economic and personal loss, he left an unforgettable legacy in Sarasota.
Here are some photos from his remarkable life. Happy birthday, John Ringling!