SARASOTA, Fla. - To us, Ca’ d’Zan on the Ringling grounds is a museum. But to a group of people visiting the Suncoast this week, it's the family homestead.
John and Mable Ringling had no children of their own, but Mable's nephew spent a lot of time at Ca' d’Zan. That nephew's adult children have gathered from all over the country, visiting their father's childhood home.
"It's amazing to think my father lived here in this house,” says Mable’s grand-niece Dulcy Marie Schueler Sellon.
As the 4 siblings toured the mansion, they pictured their father as a small boy playing in the elegant rooms.
"I love this place. It's a part of our family history, it’s a very special place to our entire family," says Cathy Schueler Sceery.
They visited once before in 1962. This time they brought some of Mable’s belongings to add to the Ringling collection. “It was in a big leather box that said ‘Mable’. All of it was laying in box."
"We’d wear them for Halloween, pull out the clothing, having no idea how important it was to preserve these things. So now we've brought them back so everybody can enjoy them,” says Chris Schueler.
They toured the mansion from top to bottom, and they pictured their dad playing hide and seek in the many rooms of the mansion. And from the tower, they looked out over the grounds and reminisced about stories their dad told them. "I remember him going out in the yacht station right at the end of the house here," says Fred Schueler.
Some of the tales about circus animals on mansion grounds were pretty tall. "One of the gorillas escaped, right in front of the mansion."
But at Ca’ d’Zan, those days are not forgotten. And so Mable's descendants visit their ancestral home, imagining what it was like when she ruled here as the grand hostess, and what it was like later on when their father romped here as a small boy.