Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ft. Lauderdale - Bonnet House

Having an afternoon to kill, we decided to check out one of Fort Lauderdale's Historic Places: The Bonnet House.  This turned out to be an awesome lesson in history, architecture, and Florida coastal development patterns.  I think I read about it on a blog glad that I have wasted so many hours reading blogs!

The Bonnet house sits on a coastal barrier island, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west.  It is a pristine wooded property smack dab in the middle of high-rises and restaurants in present-day Fort Lauderdale, FL.  The Bonnet House estate is one of the only significant remants of the coastal wilderness in Broward County.

The front gates of the estate - looking out onto the development that has sprung up since the 1930's

The driveway

(sorry this is so fuzzy)  This is Ft Lauderdale beach - taken from the fence of the estate.  The A1A highway came through and took a strip of the property

Ethan and Ron patiently waiting for our tour to begin

The property was first purchased by Hugh Taylor Birch, a wealthy lawyer from Chicago.  He loved to escape the hectic city life and visit south Florida on his boat; anchoring off-shore from the property he owned.  In 1920 he gifted the land to his daughter, Helen, for her wedding.

The slough - the house can be seen through the palms on the left

Helen Birch married American artist Frederic Clay Bartlett, who was an up-and-coming star on the art scene.  Together they built the Bonnet house in a cozy, mediterranean, eclectic style.  While other grand Florida homes being built at the time were more formal, Italian style (check out Miami's Vizcaya), Frederic and Helen chose understated whimsy.

The entrance to the house - between the "obelisks"

The courtyard. The walkway wraps around three sides with the main house on the fourth side.

The pathway paving and exterior wall cladding is coral block.

Some of Frederic and Evelyn's collected artwork

Our awesome tour guide, Mr. John Burns.  He was beside himself with excitement when I told him the school of medicine in Hawaii is named after him.  The breezeway we are standing in is decorated with some of Eveylyn's shell collection.

The shell-decorated breezeway

outdoor living space off of the courtyard

The main house from the outside

After Helen's death in 1925, Frederic married Evelyn Fortune Lily, and they continued to build the house and grounds that remain today.  In 1983 Evelyn gifted the Bonnet House to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, and it is open for all to enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this tour and look forward to more.