Thursday, November 5, 2009

Great Expectations

Ever since 1998 when the movie Great Expectations came out, I have been awed by the house where it was filmed.

Paradiso Perduto (meaning Paradise Lost) is the name of Ms. Densmore's neglected mansion in the film. As the story goes, she was to me married in the garden there, but when the marriage fell through she fell apart. The house fell apart with her, but this dilapidated set only heightens the magical quality of the film.

When I discovered that the set was really the Ca d'Zan, the winter home of John and Mable Ringling of the famous Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus it only spiked my curiosity even further.

The Ca d'Zan is described as a Venetian Gothic mansion designed by architect Dwight James Baum. It overlooks the Sarasota Bay, which reminded the Ringlings of Venice, their favorite city.

The above picture was taken in 1927 of John Ringling at the Ca d'Zan (meaning "the house of John" in Venetian dialect.) The house was completed in 1926 at the total cost of $1.5 million. According to Wikipedia, with inflation that converts to approximately $16 million today.

The unique architecture and specific attention to whimsical detail is indicative of the the circus background of the owners and only seems to make the place more magical.

The above picture is of Mable Ringling. She was said to have loved being out doors, and loved gardens. The grounds and gardens include the Italian rose garden, Mable's Scvret Garden, the Dwarf Garden, Millennium Tree Trail, and other delightful views of the bay.

Pictures above found here.

The Ca d'Zan mansion is now open for tours, a venue for public events, and can be rented for weddings.

I have great expectations of touring the mansion and grounds when I one day make it down to Sarasota, FL.


  1. I love this! Great Expectations is one of my favorite movies! and i always wondered where this house was. Good post, Thanks!

  2. What a fascinating piece of history and a magical place! I loved this post. xo

  3. I ♥ Great Expectations! I didn't know that "Paradiso Perduto" is a real place! Great post!

  4. this movie is one of my absolute favorite. this setting is amazing. i just luuuv this movie.