John and Mable Ringling are well-memorialized in Sarasota. Ringling Bridge, Ringling Causeway and Ringling College of Art and Design are some of the best-known examples.
But one memorial to Mable Ringling has been hidden for the better part of seven decades.
The Mable Ringling Memorial Fountain was a beautiful landmark in Lukewood Park, which is on both sides of the U.S. 41/U.S. 301 split. The fountain is on the north side, near Senior Friendship Centers.
It was covered after World War II, but a group of local historians is seeking to revive the fountain.
“So much of Ringling history has been torn down, such as the Ringling Hotel,” said Ron McCarty, curator of the Ringling mansion, Cà d’Zan. “Doing this project is a lovely way to thank the Ringlings.”
After John Ringling’s wife, Mable, died in 1929, the fountain was conceived in honor her.
It opened on Arbor Day 1936 and became a place where many Sarasota residents planted trees and shrubs to honor their late loved ones.
But during World War II, funding dried up, because so much money was going to the war effort.
The Sarasota Garden Club could no longer maintain the fountain, and it was covered.
Larry Kelleher, owner of the online history resource Sarasota History Alive, is leading the charge to renovate the fountain.
“We’re not asking for any money from the city,” he said.
Renovation and ongoing maintenance is expected to cost $111,000, which will be paid through donations.
An endowment would fund ongoing maintenance.
“It truly would beautify the area,” said McCarty.
This year marks the 100th year since the Ringlings moved to Sarasota.
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