Historic Structures

Alfred Ringling Manor, Oak Ridge New Jersey

Date added: September 25, 2020 Categories: New Jersey House Mansion

Alfred T. Ringling was one of seven brothers out of the small town of Baraboo, Wisconsin who in their lifetime organized and performed in the greatest tented amusement enterprise in the world. Ringling's palatial estate at Oak Ridge, New Jersey was built around 1913 and completed in 1916 and, in addition to being Alf T.'s residence, became the winter headquarters for the R. T. Richards Circus.

The Ringling Brothers Circus, organized in 1884 grew to the largest circus in the world four years later; surpassing in magnitude even the Barnum and Bailey Circus. In 1907 the Ringlings bought out the Barnum and Bailey Circus and operated under the name Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus until its final show on May 21st 2017.

Alfred T. Ringling decided to make his residence in an isolated region of Morris County, New Jersey where he purchased some 600 acres and erected a $500,000 mansion.

Ringling lived here until his death in the fall of 1919. During his residence in the manor many famous circus performers, entertainers, and other notable visitors were attracted to Ringling Manor.

Alfred's son, Richard, only 21 years old at the time, was outfitted by his father in 1917 with a motorized circus. While the circus, named R. T. Richards Circus, lasted only two seasons and was a dismal failure, it was a pioneering effort in an attempt to travel overland by automobile and truck. Formerly mobilized by train, the Richards Circus was a recognized gamble from the beginning. During its short term operation, however, the circus probably wintered at Ringling Manor. Further evidence suggests that the Manor may have served as the northeastern base of the Ringling enterprise. This is substantiated by the obituary of Alfred T. Ringling in the New York Times which read, "The estate is winter quarters for a large part of the circus equipment and animals."