The Baraboo area is rich with the history of the Ringling brothers, made famous from their circus. In addition to Al Ringling’s house, there’s the Al Ringling theatre, the Charles Ringling B&B and Circus World Museum.
Until three years ago, the mansion was owned by the Elk’s Lodge and had been in their ownership for almost 80 years. The new owners are circus folks themselves; they still travel and perform with the current Ringling/Barnum and Bailey Circus.
After Al Ringling’s death, the house was essentially abandoned for a number of years during the Depression. Amazingly, despite stories of kids playing hide and seek in the house and hobos using it to sleep in, none of the original Tiffany glass sconces, windows or shelf-fronts were broken. In fact, most of the house is incredibly well preserved, from the intricate wood carvings to the gilded gold ceiling in the dining room. The most extensive damage from the Elk’s tenure seems to be a thick patina of tobacco smoke.
Much of the furnishings are original furniture, brought back from family members or Baraboo residents who were gifted artwork, furniture and china sets by the generous Ringling women.
A lovely house and, in the near future, also a lovely B&B. Tours are $20 and all proceeds go to continued renovation of this gorgeous house.
Al Ringling Mansion
623 Broadway Street
Baraboo, WI 53913