Tranquility and Elegance on Fort Lauderdale Beach

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A recent visit to Fort Lauderdale Beach revealed that this location, once infamous for its Spring Break partiers, continues to evolve into a high-end and family-oriented destination.  A luxury-laden Conrad hotel is poised to open in September while construction on a new and sure to be opulent Four Seasons hotel is also well underway.  But, this level of refinement and luxury is not really all that new to Fort Lauderdale.  Just a few blocks north of these new properties is a place where refined elegance and languid tropical winter days were always commonplace—if only for a few treasured and invited guests.

Nestled near the intersection of State Road A1A and Sunrise Boulevard lies Bonnet House.  This historic estate, once the winter home of artist Frederic Clay Bartlett and his wife Evelyn Fortune Bartlett, is today a historic house museum centered on thirty-five acres of beach front property.  The Bartletts knew how to entertain their fifty closest friends, and they often did in the summer months at their home in Beverly, Massachusetts.  But winters at Bonnet House were different.  Dinner parties there were typically limited to six or eight close friends spending a week of their own Florida winter retreats with the Bartletts.  In the early days of the 1930s and 40s, the beach at Fort Lauderdale was far more placid and secluded than it is today.  A1A was little more than a country road, so crossing it to the Bartlett’s private beach was a leisurely stroll.  That also made it easy for Bonnet House’s butler to serve morning and afternoon refreshments by the sea to the Bartletts and their invited guests.

Meals were taken outside in the courtyard of the Caribbean-style home Frederic designed himself (a close acquaintanceship with Frank Lloyd Wright and Howard Van Doren Shaw had allowed Frederic to master the basics of building design).  A staff of thirteen was on hand to see to the needs of guests and upkeep of the property.  Dinner began with cocktails in the Bamboo Bar.  Martinis were always on hand though a house cocktail made with Rangpur lime juice and Mount Gay rum was also on offer.  Meals would have a classical French flare, not unexpected as one of Evelyn’s chefs had worked for Charles De Gaulle.  Coquilles St. Jacques would of course be served in a scallop shell and cut aspic and black truffle adornments to the main offering would have been de rigueur.  Sea breeze from the Atlantic and the distant sound of waves would make for a comfortable night in the days before air conditioners hummed.

For the Bartletts, Bonnet House was a haven on many levels.  The comparatively relaxed ambiance contributed to the creative spirit of the place.  Frederic continued to paint there into his golden years and earlier encouraged Evelyn to nurture her own innate artistic talent.  This led to a period in the 1930s when Evelyn’s paintings were exhibited to rave reviews at galleries such as the Wildenstein in New York City.  Her art in particular was inspired by the natural surroundings of Bonnet House.  Evelyn’s love of animals was on display there too.  Pets were an integral part of her life including dogs, parrots, swans, and even monkeys.  While sociable within their circle, the Bartletts were also private by nature.  No wonder they placed such value on the estate’s extensive grounds that set Bonnet House in a world apart as the population of Fort Lauderdale beach grew around them.

Frederic died in 1953, but Evelyn continued to thrive at Bonnet House.  Her last winter there was in 1995 when she was 107 years old.   Recognizing Bonnet House as the treasure it is, Evelyn preserved the estate by giving it to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.  As a result of her generosity, visitors can experience what life was like on a beachfront estate in the 1930s and 40s.  Walking the forested nature trails, one can easily forget that a bustling beach community is just yards away.  The house and its furnishings are practically unchanged.  Never a slave to fashion, the Bartletts defined their own sense of style early on and stuck with it as the years passed.

Today, guided tours of Bonnet House immerse visitors in Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett’s unique lifestyle.  Art and daily living remain inextricably linked with Frederic’s decorative painting forming a prominent element of the principal rooms and living spaces.  The dining room and butler’s pantry recall days when chefs schooled in the classical tradition created their own culinary artistry, enhanced by Spode and Davenport dinner services.  Former guest rooms now display a collection of paintings by Evelyn while the art studio houses works by Frederic, many on a grand scale.  Seeing artists painting on the grounds is not uncommon in a nod to the creative legacy of Frederic and Evelyn.  From January to April, concerts are held on a monthly basis.  An orchid festival is held each December, inspired by Evelyn’s love of these plants and the 5,000 specimens that remain part of the Bonnet House orchid collection.

While known for its meteoric growth, South Florida is also becoming defined for its embrace of the good life.  Then again, maybe Bonnet House proves that what’s old is new again.

Join Bonnet House and Kelly’s Landing for A Cruise Down the New River Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 5pm

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Bonnet House Museum & Gardens and Kelly’s Landing Seafood Restaurant present Cruisin’ Down the River: Digging Up The Past. Take a boat ride with Bonnet House down the New River Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 5:00 p.m on the famous Carrie B paddlewheel boat. Hear historical tales about Fort Lauderdale’s New River while enjoying wine and tasty treats from Kelly’s Landing and live music from the Gold Coast Banjo Band. Featured speaker is Sara Ayers-Rigsby, MA, RPA, Director, Southeast/Southwest Regions, Florida Public Archaeology Network. Admission is $45 for members and $55 for non-members and includes two glasses of wine along with a lite snack generously sponsored by Kelly’s Landing. A cash bar will also be available onboard. The yacht embarkation site is 3440 North New River Drive East, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.

For more information and to reserve your seat, please call (954) 653-1554 or visit http://www.bonnethouse.org/calendar/.

Fine Artists’ Summer Series at Frame ‘n Art by the Sea Gallery

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George Rusovick, The Shell Museum

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in collaboration with Frame ‘n Art by the Sea Gallery present The Fine Artists’ Summer Series featuring works from the Bonnet House Fine Artists. The first of four exhibitions opens Thursday, June 15 at 5:30pm with a free wine and cheese reception. The four exhibitions will feature works of various media including watercolor, oil, acrylic and photography and a percentage of all art sale proceeds will benefit Bonnet House and its programs. The exhibitions are scheduled to run from June 15 through October 19. All four exhibitions are free and open to the public and will include raffle, a wine & cheese reception and beautiful art. The receptions for each show will begin at 5:30pm on the first night of each exhibition.

The exhibitions schedule is as follows:

First Exhibition: Thursday, June 15 – Thursday, July 20

Second Exhibition: Thursday, July 20 – Thursday, August 17

Third Exhibition: Thursday, August 17 – Thursday, September 21

Fourth Exhibition: Thursday, September 21 – Thursday, October 19

Frame ‘n Art by the Sea Gallery is located at 229A E. Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale By The Sea, FL 33308. For more information, please contact Frame ‘n Art by the Sea Gallery at (954) 267-9202 or http://framenartbythesea.com/.

Cool Saturdays Summer Special at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

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Front Door

Photo by Phoenix Spirit-Diva

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens kicks off its Cool Saturdays Summer Special on July 1st this season. Cool Saturdays take place the first Saturday of the month July through October.  Visitors can explore the whimsical house where fish sculptures rise in the air, shells have their own museum and shady nature trails invite you to search for playful monkeys in the trees and majestic swans in the fresh water lakes. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under from 9am to 4pm on these days.

Specific dates are: July 1, August 5, September 2 and October 7. Tour admission is always free for Bonnet House members.

Final Concert Under The Stars Featuring Dillard Jazz Ensemble

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Dillard2016The 21st season of Concerts Under the Stars closes on Thursday, April 6th with Dillard Jazz Ensemble. Come enjoy one of Fort Lauderdale’s most popular music series and best deals in town.

This concert series, initially conceived as a community outreach program, has become one of Bonnet House’s most anticipated, successful and treasured programs. Each evening’s activities take place in and around the colorful and fascinating house, one of our nation’s most popular historic estates, with the concerts taking place on the veranda, under South Florida’s beautiful starry skies. All of the evening’s activities begin at 7pm.

Individual tickets start at $35 per performance for members and $40 per performance for non-members. Accentuating the great value of a musical series that has been called “quite possibly the best entertainment deal in town,” the price of admission also includes wine, cookies and coffee for each performance. Bonnet House is located at 900 North Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call (954) 703-2614 or visit us at BonnetHouse.org/events.

Daniel Bennet Group Jazz Trio Set to Perform March 30th at Bonnet House

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New York based Daniel Bennett Group is set to perform at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens Thursday, March 30 at 7pm. Enjoy a jazzy musical event you’ll never forget on the magical Bonnet House Estate. Ticket includes complementary wine.

Saxophonist Daniel Bennett has been hailed as one of the most original and unpredictable musical voices of his generation. Daniel Bennett can be heard throughout the world performing his award-winning compositions on saxophone, flute, clarinet, and oboe. The Daniel Bennett Group plays modern jazz, fused with elements of surf rock and avant-pop.

Daniel Bennett Group is currently touring to promote their newest album, ‘Sinking Houseboat Confusion’ (Manhattan Daylight Media). Bennett is joined by renowned guitarist Nat Janoff and master percussionist Matthew Feick. The Boston Globe describes Bennett’s music as “a mix of jazz, folk, and minimalism.”

The band was recently voted “Best New Jazz Group” in New York City Hot House Magazine. The Daniel Bennett Group has been featured in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, NPR, Indianapolis Public Radio, San Francisco Examiner, St. Louis Public Radio, and the Village Voice. The Village Voice raves, “saxophonist Daniel Bennett makes hay with an airy approach that’s buoyant enough to conjure notions of East African guitar riffs and Steve Reich’s pastoral repetition.”  Time Out New York describes the music as “hypnotic.”

Tickets are $25, include complimentary wine and are available online at www.bonnethouse.org or by calling (954) 703-2614.

Bonnet House Listed as #12 on BLT's Florida Bucket List!

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bonnet-house-listed-on-blts-florida-bucket-listThe BLT, Blog for Lifestyle & Travel has created a Florida Bucket List: Top 50 Things To Do in the Sunshine State. Bonnet House is listed as the number 12th tourist attraction in the state of Florida. The BLT’s Bucket List offers their ideas on where to go, what to see, and tips for making the most of a vacation trip from the ocean to the Everglades.

BLT’s fantastic review: “Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, Bonnet House is a historic home set in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The home showcases what the wealthy lived like in the early 1900s. From beautiful architecture to a fabulous museum and beautiful gardens, this spectacular historic house is filled with a rich history that everyone should experience once.

This beautiful tropical villa was originally built in 1920 and was home to the Bartlett family. The museum itself boasts a plethora of artwork from the time, and is one of the few complete homes and studios of American artists that are open to the public. Visitors can take a tour or explore at their leisure. There is a shop on the premises as well as a breathtaking garden featuring stunning landscaping, fantastic photo opportunities, and a plethora of gorgeous plants.

Rich in history and beauty, the Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is something guests of all ages can enjoy. The interior museum is full of beautiful and historic things, and the grounds are home to an amazing garden that is breathtaking to behold. Don’t miss a chance to walk through this historic sight, visit the Bonnet House today.”

Cross off Bonnet House off your bucket list. A visit to South Florida is truly not complete without time spent at beautiful, historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the estate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been declared a historic landmark by the City of Fort Lauderdale. Bonnet House is located at 900 North Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304. For more information and details about all there is to see – and all there is to do – at Bonnet House, please call (954) 563-5393 or visit BonnetHouse.org.

More Rave Reviews About Bonnet House from the National Press.

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usnews-travel-review-bonnet-houseThe U.S. News and World Report joins a long list of sites and publications highlighting Bonnet House as one of the top places to visit in Fort Lauderdale. Here’s a portion their review about this beautiful, historic estate, ranking it as #6 among things to do in Fort Lauderdale:

“Recent travelers said the Bonnet House has something to keep every type of traveler satisfied: art lovers, horticulture enthusiasts, animal lovers and history buffs will enjoy this attraction. The plantation home is ornately decorated and filled with artwork (all three residents of the house were artists of some kind), but the estate’s grounds are also well worth the visit. The campus is lush and beautiful for a nice walk through nature and even sometimes accompanied by monkeys. The conditions of the grounds and the informative docents were two aspects that recent visitors said make this a must-see attraction.”

Come find out why everyone rates Bonnet House as one of the best attractions in Florida, and why a visit down south is truly not complete without time spent at this wonderful place, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and recognized as a historic landmark by the City of Fort Lauderdale. The story told here spans and parallels a wide swath of American history, and is uniquely educational, entertaining and unforgettable.

Bonnet House is located at 900 North Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304. For more information and details, please call (954) 563-5393 or visit BonnetHouse.org.

Private Events are Unforgettable at One of the Nation’s Premier Historic Homes.

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2016-private-events-at-bonnet-houseSpanning 35 acres, Bonnet House Museum and Gardens has been called the most beautiful place for private events and corporate affairs in Fort Lauderdale, offering a stunning variety of exquisite settings, each uniquely charming in its own special way. Be it a grand lavish celebration or a close intimate gathering, your guests will enjoy sharing unforgettable moments in this culturally and historically rich venue featuring innovative architecture, original artwork, and lush tropical gardens.

Bonnet House, located in the center of Fort Lauderdale, at 900 North Birch Road, combines the grandeur of the past with modern amenities and a private parking lot, making it a choice destination to accommodate events of any size, but be sure to plan ahead – Bonnet House limits the number of private events, and dates are reserved based on availability when accompanied by your rental deposit. Here are some useful tips about planning your perfect event:

1.    Select a full service caterer. Make sure your caterer can handle not only food and beverage service, but also rentals (tables, chairs and linens), as well as staff for set-up, service and cleanup.
2.    Consider hiring a planner. Planners are a great asset and can make your private event at Bonnet House run smoothly.
3.    Plan in advance. Bonnet House requires a formal walk through with the client, planner and caterer at least one month before your event.
4.    Be prepared for inclement weather. This might mean selecting a particular time of year for your event or making sure you have arranged for a tent.
5.    Think about how you want the event to flow. Events can be very fast paced, so provide a timeline to your guests, so they know when to arrive at the venue.

Bonnet House can furnish a list of vendors that are fully licensed and insured and that have worked at the estate before. For additional information contact Nicholle Maudlin, Bonnet House Events Manager, at (954) 703-2608 or nichollemaudling@www.bonnethouse.org.

Tons of 5-Star Callouts in “Yelp Reviews & Recommendations.”

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yelp-reviews Following are but a few of the unsolicited “5-Star” reviews posted to Yelp.com about beautiful, historic Bonnet House, one of our nation’s most popular historic houses and gardens, and perhaps its most beautiful!

Ben A., Washington, DC – We loved this place. First of all it is a serene and tranquil oasis in the middle of busy Ft. Lauderdale. The art is beautiful and the story of the museum and its establishment is somehow poignant. IMO, there are some real treasures here. The gardens are beautiful. Parts of them give you a sense of what the area was like before human civilization. Overall, our visit to Bonnet House left us feeling like we had journeyed far through distance and through time.

Phylicia K., Hollywood, FL – What a gem! I had no idea this beautiful house was here in Broward! 
The history is amazing itself! To hear of the evolution between the different generations & to see all of the art is amazing!

Daniel W., Los Angeles, CA – A historic and artistic gem in Ft. Lauderdale! The spectacular house, and lush tropical grounds are like stepping back in time.

Rachel S., East Meadow, NY – I was very pleasantly surprised by my visit to Bonnet House. Everything in the home is original and in its original place. Evelyn Bartlett lived until she was 109 years old, and her story alone is enough to keep you transfixed. There are a lot more interesting details that you will learn on your tour here, more than I can describe in this review. Go see it!

To see more great yelplogo-72dpi reviews, please visit yelp.com/biz/bonnet-house-museum-and-gardens-fort-lauderdale

Come find out what all the visitors are raving about, and why a visit to South Florida is truly not complete without time spent at beautiful, historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and recognized as a historic landmark by the City of Fort Lauderdale. The story told here spans and parallels a wide swath of American history and makes a visit both to these pages and to the estate a uniquely educational, entertaining and truly unforgettable experience.

Bonnet House is located at 900 North Birch Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304. For more information and details, please call (954) 563-5393 or visit BonnetHouse.org.