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Dst In Venice Gondolier – June 17, 2023

a sign in front of a building

Sarasota Trolley Tour All About Design
June 17, 2023 | Venice Gondolier

by Kim Cool, Our Town Editor

If there is something one wants to learn about Sarasota, there likely is or will be a Discover Sarasota Trolley Tour.

The newest is the Discover Sarasota Architecture Tour guided by Ed Simays, a 2000 transplant from Washington, D.C. with a lifelong passion for history.

After arriving, he became a docent at The Ringling Museum of Art, Ca d’Zan (the Ringling mansion) and the Museum of the Circus.

Consider that in the glory days when Ringling had docents, they were professionally
trained by an outside group that resulted in some of the finest and most knowledgeable museum docents in the U.S.

Design of the museum buildings were inspired by the Mediterranean Revival style popular in the Palm Beach area in the 1920s, as well as by John and Mable Ringling’s frequent trips to that area of Europe while seeking circus acts.

They also gathered photos of the architecture they viewed and presented those to New York architect Dwight Baum as inspiration for what became Ca d’Zan, their Sarasota mansion.

That is not on this tour but its Mediterranean-inspired architecture is known for its prominence in this area. So is Art Deco and Modern Architecture.

On the Architecture tour, Simays shows us examples of these styles and how architecture drew artists and writers and other creative people to the area.

Driver James Ward maintained the perfect pace, stopping at specific areas to allow us to really see specific homes, churches, city hall and more.

With no need for notes, Simays would talk about the next building on the way to prepare us for what we would see.

There is something about taking a tour with someone who not only knows his subject well but also is passionate about it. Within the first few minutes of the tour, it was obvious that we were being guided by someone who knew what he was talking about. He cared about this culturally rich and beautiful area.

“Often architecture is the art itself,” Simays said. “What makes it good? “Why is it being built? How is it being built. How will it hold up?”

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