El Vernona Hotel - a.k.a. John Ringling Hotel
Postcards: Sarasota History
The El Vernona Hotel was build by Owen Burns to honor his beautiful wife, Vernona Hill Freeman of New York. It was designed by architect Dwight James Baum and was described by experts as "the most perfect example of Spanish architecture in Florida." The hotel formally opened with a grand ball and celebration of New Year's Eve, December, 31, 1926. Locally, it was advertised as the "Aristocrat of Beauty." After the crash of the Florida Land Boom, John Ringling took over the hotel and named it the John Ringling Hotel which featured circus acts in the main dining room. In later years, it became John Ringling Towers, a retirement community. Despite efforts to restore and save it from the wrecking ball, it was demolished in 1998 to make way for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.