John Ringling's vision for St. Armands Key was as a people-friendly place of broad boulevards, beautiful homes, classical statues, lush landscaping, elegant shops and restaurants, and a central park for musical performances. His travels to the Renaissance cities of Italy inspired his vision. The classical sculpture he saw there combined the realistic portrayal of individual beauty and the humanistic aspects of idealized beauty. There are 16 Ringling-era statues located on our central park and adjacent medians. They are of stone or bronze, are approximately full size, and represent classical or Renaissance themes.
In 2007 the St. Armands Residents Association undertook the Save Our Statutes (SOS) project, under the leadership of resident Edward Pinto. SOS's goal was the preservation of the 16 statues John Ringling purchased in the 1920s and the addition of 21 new statues designed to enhance his legacy. Two of the new statues, "FLORA" and "SCULPTURE", are copies of Ringling era statues in the collection of the Ringling Museum. All of the new statues evoke attributes of St. Armands and Sarasota. The 21 new statues added in 2007 were selected to be consistent to the Ringling-era statues and are marble, hand carved, and represent classical themes.
SOS's work was completed in one year. On February 2, 2008 the St. Armands community celebrated SOS's completion and its rededication to John Ringling's vision and the countless others who created Sarasota, the cultural jewel of Florida. This celebration took place on St. Armands at THE ALLEGORY OF SARASOTA, HER SEVEN VIRTUES, which is a parklet in the median of John Ringling Blvd where it connects with St. Armands Circle on the east side.
The plaque dedicating the Seven Virtues notes that John Ringling foresaw Sarasota as a metropolitan city distinguished by its cultural facilities. Ringling had observed that “Though Life is Short, Art is Long”:
The Seven Virtues: (each of which is represented by a statue of the same name)
The Ringling-era statue MICHELANGELO looks with approval over the Seven Virtues.
A plaque at the western intersection of John Ringling Boulevard and Washington Drive commemorates the St. Armands Residents Association's appreciation to the many individuals & organizations for their generous contributions that made SOS a reality.
In 2022, 15 years after the Save Our Statues project, many of the Circle's statues were again in a state of disrepair due to weather and vandalism. The City had not been budgeting funds to care for them. Resident Ed Pinto again looked into repairing or replacing the statues as needed, as did the City's Senior Planner in the Office of Public Art. Along with residents and City staff, the St. Armands Circle (Merchants) Association and Business Improvement District were also concerned about the condition of some of the St. Armands statues.
April 15, 2022
The St. Armands Residents Association establishes a fund with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County (CFSC). Since CFSC is a 501c3, donors have the ability to make tax-deductible contributions to the statue repair effort. This is the same vehicle that our Association used to raise funds for the Save Our Statues project back in 2007. Our Association will work with City staff to allocate donated funds toward the repair, replacement, cleaning, and maintenance of the St. Armands statues.
An anonymous donor contributes $25,000 to this fund. The only stipulations for this gift were that they remain anonymous and that we use some of the funding to place a bench within the area with the wife’s name on the plaque at some point.
2022 Member Survey Results
90% agree or strongly agree that the John Ringling and Circus history and themes featured around St. Armands Circle should be valued and preserved. (n=147)