Secrets of an American Palace: April’s Conversation at the Crocker

Ron McCarty, Keeper and Curator of Ca’ d’Zan, Leads a Conversation and Shows Rare Photos of the Famous Mansion he calls “Mable’s House.”

No one is more aware of the importance of a great house museum to a specific community and to the wider world than Ron McCarty, the Keeper and Curator of Ca’ d’Zan, the fabulous American palace John and Mable Ringling built on Sarasota’s bayfront in the late 1920s. McCarty has been employed by the Ringling Museum longer than anyone in the history of the museum and will share insider stories.

McCarty presents Secrets of an American Palace, the last Conversation at the Crocker of the season on Tuesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. Facts and stories about the mansion he calls “Mable’s House” that everyday tour goers never hear will be shared by the home’s uniquely qualified expert.

The Keeper of the House, Ron McCarty, at Ca' d'Zan, the Ringling palace in Sarasota FL
Come find out why Ron treasures this painting of parrots at the next Conversation at the Crocker presented by the Historical Society of Sarasota County

McCarty has been at the Ringling Museum for 35 years and oversaw, with the museum’s conservator Michelle Scalera, the $15 million dollar massive restoration of the Ringling residence in 2002.

“The art museum was essentially John’s project,” notes McCarty, “but the mansion, while it reflected both John and Mable, was really hers. Mable’s vision guided the architecture, the interior design and the gardens and she also personally did the shopping for all the furniture and accessories. Some decorative features she included on the facade of the home honored her husband and, of course, the grand scale of the home was meant to impress. The house was Mable’s ideal of what a great house should look like and how it should function. She was a wonderful hostess. Mable had four sisters and a brother and she had guest rooms for all of them because she wanted family to always be welcome.

“I feel a special kinship with Mable Ringling,” he continues. “And everything I do from researching original paint colors and fabrics to collecting clothes that she and John owned at Ca’ d’Zan, to putting her favorite flowers in the rooms, is done as if she is still taking care of her beloved Sarasota home.”

Ron McCarty is a board member at the Historical Society and is chair of buildings and grounds as well as being in charge of acquisitions.

At 6 p.m. before the Conversation, an optional docent-led tour of the Bidwell-Wood House and the Crocker Memorial Church is available. Historical Society members and students are admitted free to both the tour and the Conversation; guests pay $10 at the door. Annual membership in the Historical Society of Sarasota County (HSOSC) is $30.

The historic Crocker Memorial Church is located at 1260 12th Street (Pioneer Park), Sarasota. The next season of Conversations at the Crocker will begin in October 2016. For more information, contact HSOSC Site Manager Linda Garcia at 941-364-9076.

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