Alfred T. Ringling, he of circus fame, discovered the picturesque Berkshire Valley in the early 20th Century. Declaring it the most beautiful place he had ever seen, he purchased 100 acres and a pond in Petersburg (now the Milton section of Oak Ridge) and set about building a winter HQ for his circus. A 26-room mansion was built between 1917 and 1918, along with a series of outbuildings for his circus menagerie. Most of them survive today, in private hands.
The “No, 7 building” in the sketch map denotes the elephant building. Like the others, it was concrete with area fieldstone decorating the walls. It’s gone to ruin — the glass-roofed ceiling collapsed about 1996, according to the locals — but what’s left has been incorporated into the Berkshire Valley Golf Course.
I took the following photos in the spring of 2004 when the property was being transformed into the golf course.
These close-up photos give an idea of the size of the place.
Today, the Berkshire Valley Golf Course plays host to thousands of golfers every year. As a county golf course, it’s open to the public. Food and drink are available in the clubhouse, even if you don’t golf. And you’re able to borrow a golf cart and head over to the ruins yourself, if you wish.