Meet “Mable Ringling”, wife of John Ringling on Saturday, April 22 at 2:00pm. She will talk about how the Sarasota of today compares to the one she knew during her time.

Mable Burton Ringling (1875-1929)

When and how Mable Burton met John Ringling is today a matter of conjecture. What is known is that they married on December 29, 1905 when she was thirty and he was thirty-nine. By all accounts their marriage was a happy one in which they delighted in their shared interests in travel, art and culture. Like her husband, Mable Burton Ringling was a woman of humble origins. Born on March 14, 1875 in the farming community of Moons, Ohio, Mable was one of five daughters and a son born of George Wesley and Mary Elizabeth Burton. By the turn of the 20th century, she left Ohio to pursue her future.

During her travels with John, Mable fell in love with the grace and grandeur of Venice. In 1923, they commissioned the architect Dwight James Baum to build their dream home, modeled on the Doge’s Palace and the Cá d’Oro in their beloved Venice. Mable oversaw every aspect of the construction, from the glazing of the tiles to the mixing of the terra cotta. She designed much of the original landscaping on the grounds of the estate, including her Rose Garden and Secret Garden. And while the house was to be called Ca’ d’Zan, Venetian dialect for “House of John”, it was really, as one writer later observed, truly “John’s love letter to Mable.” The house, completed in 1926, soon became the site of lavish musicales, as well as garden and dinner parties. There were “Gatsbyesque” parties that lasted till dawn, with an orchestra playing from the Ringling yacht moored just off the marble terrace.


Free event open to the public at the Historical Exhibits & Education Center, 701 N. Tamiami Trail 



Eliot Kleinberg presented a visual and speaking tour of 500 years of Florida history and how it has changed the state. This program was well attended.


A great evening with Dr. Roger Smith who presented “The American Revolution’s Best Kept Secret” about Florida’s role in the Revolution – we all learned a lot!

Dr. Smith with board members Betty Intagliata, Tom Jones, Ruthmary Williams, Margaret Borrows, Cathy McGuire, and Cindy Eley.


A large and enthusiastic crowd or art lovers enjoyed a talk by Gary Monroe about Florida’s Highwaymen and the art movement they created.

These events were hosted by the Friends of the Sarasota County History Center and sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council with funds from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs.


A special thank you to the Sarasota Garden Club for the use of their auditorium space for all these well attended programs.


Artist, Theodore Morris along with Florida Anthropological Society, President, and Archaeologist, Theresa Schober, and Sarasota County Archaeologist, Steve Koski discussed the melding of art and archaeology, which was interesting, informative, and enjoyed by all who attended.

[photo above by Richard Sinclair Bottorff]

Presented by the Friends of the Sarasota County History Center, Sarasota County Historical Resources, and the Florida Anthropological Society

A Special Message from FOSCHC Past President, Betty Intagliata

Dearest Friends,

I shall be leaving the office of President as of the Annual Business Meeting and Election of Officers on March 17, 2017. I was appointed to the Friends board by Pete Esthus before his death. Upon losing a great person like Pete, I agreed to take on the leadership of the FOSCHC. There were a number of early crises but we stayed afloat.

In 2014, the Friends learned that the Sarasota County Visitors Center was vacating the Historic Chidsey Building. Built in 1941, this was the first public library in the City of Sarasota. It had a number of permanent historical exhibits, and after much discussion, I wrote a letter on behalf of the Friends to the Chairperson of the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners, indicating interest by FOSCHC in becoming custodians in order to keep it open to the public. We contacted Sarabeth Kalajian, Director of Libraries & Historical Resources, and this led to numerous meetings with county staff to work out a sublease on the property. The one year sub-lease became a reality in July 2015 and was renewed in 2016.


What has the small Board of the Friends achieved in this time frame? I am proud to list the following:

• Paid for a Historical Exhibits & Education Center sign in front of Chidsey
• Initiated having a speaker in conjunction with Annual Meetings
• Obtained volunteers from the History & Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County
• Received a generous donation of $10,000 from Arnold Berns to be used for exhibits
• Received a generous donation from Nat McCulloch for a new Microphone system at Chidsey Building
• Began “Saturdays at Chidsey” programs which brought in speakers from the Florida Public Archaeological Network, as well as from other historic groups
• Wrote and received a grant for $5,000 from Florida Humanities Council for a 2017 four-part lecture series
• Hired a Manager for the Chidsey Building to help relieve our Board and coordinate volunteers, etc.
• Started a “Neighborhood Get-Together” with Sarasota Garden Club, Sarasota Art Center, Exhibition Hall, Lawn Bowlers Association and FOSCHC
• Production of a new 2017 Membership brochure
• Held three fundraisers and participated in the “Giving Challenge” set up by the Community Foundation
• Installed exhibits: “Paul Rudolph & the Florida Houses” “John Nolen: City Planner” and the current one, “Florida’s Lost Tribes” by artist Theodore Morris
• Set up a Florida Studies Room with the help of the county library system and a “Book Nook”
• Expanded the Gift Shop at the Historic Chidsey Building

All of the above was achieved by the tenacity and energy of past and present Friends Board. I salute current Board members who have worked diligently. A huge salute to: Margaret Borrows, Cindy Eley, Tom Jones, Cathy McGuire and Ruthmary Williams. What was achieved was a true team effort! I wish all the best of luck to incoming President, Margaret Borrows and her Board! Special thanks to George and Nancy Potter and Betty Nugent for your support at Historic Chidsey Exhibits and Education Center. I wish to thank Sarabeth Kalajian, Director of the Sarasota County
Libraries & Historical Resources and Jennifer Perry of the same department. Thank you to Rob Bendus and his staff at the Sarasota County Historical Resources for their guidance and support. Also to Frank Cassell, Chair of the History & Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County and a big thank you to all Coalition members who supported the Friends with volunteers and continue to do so.

Finally, I want to thank the Friends members for your support and hope you will think about joining your Board in their worthwhile endeavors. It has been a privilege to serve all of you but at age 79, it is time for me to take care of my health and enjoy my family and those beautiful Florida sunsets!

All the very best,
Betty Intagliata

ON EXHIBIT NOW: Florida’s Lost Tribes Feb. 17-May 30

The newest exhibition at the Chidsey Historical Exhibits & Education Center, is by local and Florida artist, Theodore Morris. “FLORIDA’S LOST TRIBES” features oil paintings depicting indigenous people of the early tribes of Florida. Morris has exhibited at historical museums and also the state capitol. His art is for sale and is highly sought after by collectors. Don’t miss this opportunity to gaze into the eyes of people from the past!  This exhibition is located at 701 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

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