Charles Ringling was the advance man and in charge of production for the Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus when he first came to Sarasota in 1912, to visit his
Charles Ringling bought land, including the Gillespie golf course, and planned the
Courthouse Subdivision, which would extend the business center away from the bay.
He donated land for a courthouse for the newly created Sarasota County, "providing
the building cost not less than $150,000." In 1925, the Sarasota County Board of
Commissioners authorized a $500,000 bond issue for construction of the courthouse and
hired Dwight James Baum as the architect.
Ringling planned his development so that the new Atlantic Coast Line Railroad station
would be at its eastern end. Tourists would be able to step off the train and stay in his
ten-story Sarasota Terrace Hotel, which opened in 1926. He planned to have 150 Spanish
style homes built in the subdivision. Ringling Boulevard, the street between the
courthouse and hotel, was named for Charles Ringling. In addition to the fifty-two
commercial lots he owned, he had a 33,000-acre ranch.
Ringling founded Sarasota's third bank, the Ringling Bank and Trust Company, and then
added an annex for the abstract department. He was a working president of the Sarasota
Chamber of Commerce when he died in 1926.
He replaced his first home with a pink marble mansion with a large music room and
swimming pool. Built in 1925 on forty acres, with 800-900 feet of bayfront, it was just
north of his brother John's estate. The home is now part of New College.
Sarasota historian Lillian Burns described Charles as a "much warmer, more gentle
person than John, and more highly regarded in town."