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- by New College Communications

SARASOTA, Fla. — New College of Florida will host tours of the Ellen and Ralph Caples Estate, 351 Caples Drive, Sarasota, from February 5 — March 2, 2024, to kick off a Historic Preservation Campaign. The primary purpose of the campaign, which will be coordinated by Joyce and Jeff Hart in conjunction with the New College Foundation, is preservation, awareness and enhancement of all historic sites and building on the New College campus.

“The history surrounding New College’s most iconic buildings is a defining part of its identity and contributes to the bond between the College and the Sarasota community,” said New College President Richard Corcoran. “The Hart’s vigor for historic preservation and sharing their knowledge and love for these landmark structures is commendable, and these tours will be important for our ongoing efforts to preserve the significant pieces of history entrusted to us.”

The Mediterranean Revival style mansion was constructed in the 1920s and is part of the Caples-Ringling Estates Historic District in Sarasota. It still features many original construction and design elements, which were preserved during recent interior renovations. Ellen Caples gifted the mansion to New College in 1971. Ralph Caples was a friend and business associate of the Ringling Bros. and played a leading role in Sarasota’s development, including bringing the railroad to the area.

The Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation named the Caples Mansion on its Six to Save Program list of historic buildings in 2021 and continues to advocate for its preservation. Other historically significant structures on the campus include the Charles Ringling Mansion, Cook Hall, the Pei Dorms, Four Winds Café, and Robertson Hall.

Jeff and Joyce Hart own J. Hart Interior Design. Joyce currently sits on the City of Sarasota’s Historic Preservation Board and is a past board member of the Alliance for Historic Preservation.

“After more than a decade of requests, we are grateful to President Corcoran for granting us permission to open the mansion to the public,” Joyce and Jeff said. “As graduates of Ringling College of Art and Design, and along with 12 other local designers, we get to combine our passion for restoring and showcasing historic homes and bring the rooms of the historic mansion to life again.”

A Ribbon Cutting will take place on Sunday, February 4 from 3-5 p.m. Daily tours are available February 5th to March 2nd 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closed on Sundays. The admission fee is $25 with all proceeds of the tours benefitting the New College Historic Preservation Fund. Event sponsorships are also available. For more information, visit, call 941-487-4800 or email [email protected].