Longboat Key resident exhibits his giving spirit


Longboat Key resident exhibits his giving spirit


Date: April 7, 2010
by: Robin Hartill | Community Editor


The first phase of a waterfront landscaping plan at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is scheduled for completion in June. And the updates will be possible thanks to L’Ambiance resident David Bolger, an 18-year Longboat Key resident who donated $1,105,000 to the project. The gift will be used to update the 66-acre estate’s waterfront space by connecting the Cà d’Zan mansion to the south property line with pathways, seating, lighting and landscaping.

“The waterfront is an important component of the museum experience,” Bolger said in a prepared statement. “My gift will create a place of tranquility where museum visitors will be able to sit, enjoy the beauty of the landscaping and the bay and contemplate life and their place in it.”

The gift is the latest of Bolger’s long tradition of giving. When he was 16, he donated money he earned working various jobs to the Watson Home for Crippled Children, in Sewickley, Pa. He then worked his way through college at the University of Pittsburgh by working nights in a steel mill.

Bolger went on to found Bolger & Co., a real-estate investment firm in Ridgewood, N.J., and create The Bolger Foundation, which has made more than $70 million in philanthropic donations since 2000.

And the latest gift isn’t Bolger’s first gift to the Ringling Museum. Bolger was passing by the Ringling Museum one day when he met John Wetenhall, who was executive director of the museum at the time. He was so impressed with the property that he donated $1 million on the spot.

“The grounds just looked beautiful,” Bolger said. “It makes it a better place to live.”

Construction for the project is currently under way. Upon completion of the first phase, visitors will be able to stroll along Sarasota Bay on a palm-lined promenade that will lead them toward Cà d’Zan. A pathway facing west toward Longboat Key will be lined with seating, and a paved square adjacent to the south end of Cà d’Zan will be available for the public to rent for social events.

“It’s an important project to the community,” Bolger said.

Contact Robin Hartill at rhartill@yourobserver.com.

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