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Bonnet House Museum & Gardens Announces its 100th Anniversary Workshop & Class Schedule

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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL Workshops & Classes

The Bonnet House Museum & Gardens’ 100th Anniversary season is highlighted with a variety of exciting events, programs, workshops, tours and classes. This season is filled with art, music, holiday cheer, watercolor, calligraphy and drawing workshops; birding, orchid care classes as well as our annual Concerts Under the Stars series, Orchid Festival, VIP Upstairs-Downstairs Guided Tours and our 100th Anniversary Celebration. Holiday Magic at Bonnet House returns, a six-day event with evening tours and live performances beginning December 6th. Become a member for only $65 and receive significant discounts on classes, workshops and special events as well as free admission to Bonnet House year-round. 

The season schedule is as follows:
Birding Classes,
Individual Classes, Sunday, November 3, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. (The World of Birding-A Lifelong Pleasure Pursuit), Sunday, December 1, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. (Ascend to Better Birding I), Sunday, January 5, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. (Ascend to Better Birding II), Sunday, February 2, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.  (Common Birds of South Florida-Backyard & Waterways), Sunday, March 1, 2 p.m.- 5 p.m. (Birding by Habitat-Finding the Birds you Seek). Join birder extraordinaire, Paddy Cunningham on the historic Bonnet House estate. To register, visit or call 954-703-2606. Cost: Bonnet House Members $20, non-members $25.

Holiday Magic Holiday Arrangement Class: Thursday, December 12, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Learn how to create your own holiday arrangement with Victoria Park Flowers. Class is limited to 30 and is $20 per person. Fee includes self-guided tour of the house from 5:30-7pm. RSVP Required. Register online only at

Calligraphy Workshop, (2) five-week sessions-Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Beginners Workshop: January 7 – February 4, Intermediate: February 11 – March 10. Join artist Tony Pastucci on the historic Bonnet House estate.  Workshop includes basic and intermediate principles of calligraphy.  To register, visit or call 954-703-2606. Cost: Bonnet House Members $100, non-members $125.

Watercolor Workshop, (2) six-week sessions-Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.; January 8 – February 12 or February 26 – April 1. Join fine artist and watercolorist Karen Eskesen in the historic Bonnet House courtyard. Workshop includes traditional techniques of realism in watercolor and line drawing and time to paint in the covered courtyard and gardens. To register, visit or call 954-703-2606. Cost: Bonnet House members $140, non-members $160.

Acrylic Painting Workshop, (2) six-week sessions-Thursdays, 9:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.; January 9 – February 13 or February 27 – April 2. Classes take place in the historic Bonnet House courtyard. Workshop includes basic principles of acrylic painting and time to paint in the covered courtyard and gardens. To register visit or call 954-703-2606. Cost: Bonnet House Members $140, non-members $160.

Two-day Orchid Painting Watercolor Workshop – Friday & Saturday, February 28 & 29, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30p.m.; To register, visit or call 954-703-2606. Cost for two-day session – Members $180, Non-members $200.

Basket Weaving, (2) 1-day workshops. Wednesday, January 29 and Saturday, March 7, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Florida Natural Basket – Create an artistic basket from natural materials found locally. The day will include an intro to basketry video and a walk on the property to identify the materials used. This class is an intro to local natural materials for all level weavers. To register, visit or call 954-703-2606. Cost: Bonnet House Members $105, Non-members $120.

Orchid Care Classes, Individual classes-Saturday, January 25: Orchid Basics 9:30am – 11:30am; Orchid Repotting & Mounting 1:00pm – 3:00pm. Classes take place in the historic Bonnet House Island Theater.  To register, visit or call 954-703-2606. Cost: Bonnet House Members $30, Non-members $35.

Baobab Tree

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On a garden tour, I stopped the tram near the Baobab tree to explain that in Africa it is known as the “Tree of Life.” My littlest passenger knew the tree from The Lion King. She hopped off the tram and ran to it. Ignoring her parents’ pleas to come back, she faced the Baobab and began to sing in a high pitched voice the “Circle of Life” from that production.

“From the day we arrive on the planet. And blinking, step into the sun, there’s more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done.”

In 1996, Evelyn Bartlett ceremoniously planted our little tree in the desert garden. At twenty feet high with a slender trunk, it does not project the Baobab legacy of longevity and size: some trees have been estimated to be up to 4000 years old with girths up to 150 feet. With age, though still alive, the trunk cracks open, exposing a hollow center that can be used for storage and homes for creatures great and small.

“There’s far too much to take in here. More to find than can ever be found. 

But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky keeps great and small on the endless round. It’s the Circle of Life.”

Universally, there are nine species of Baobab with Madagascar Island home to six. They are found from eastern Africa through Saudi Arabia to India with another species in north-west Australia. Recently, die-offs have been attributed to the Baobab’s lifespan combined with excessive drought and increasing habitat changes.

“And it moves us all through despair and hope. Through faith and love till we find our place on the path unwinding. In the Circle, the Circle of Life.”

The Baobab thrives in arid areas, savannahs, and ocean-side deserts. Sparse rains, stored in its expansive trunk, makes its wood pulpy and moist. When confronted with drought, elephants will tear the trees apart to get to the watery pulp. In the barren deserts, the football size fruit is also a rich source of vitamin C. Interestingly, the ancient trade routes from Africa to India were rediscovered because the traders ate the fruit, spat out the seeds and now mature Baobabs line that trail. 

“And it moves us all through despair and hope,

Through faith and love till we find our place.” 

In Africa, the Baobab tree is considered a sacred tree. Rather than bury family members in arid ground, where night creatures easily dig them up, individuals are placed inside the tree where the interior cocoons their loved one. The Baobab tree truly gives shade, food, and comfort for those that live in its grace.

“On the path unwinding in the Circle. The Circle of Life.”

This article is dedicated to our Bonnet House friends and volunteers 

that have completed their Circle of Life.

Songwriters: Elton John / Tim Rice

Circle of Life lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company

Explore The Natural Beauty of Fort Lauderdale

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As residents of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we are incredibly proud of our community, and its rich cultural history. We’d like to take some time to highlight some other Fort Lauderdale attractions that you can enjoy with the whole family!

Bonnet House – is situated on a coastal barrier island. Much of the natural environment of barrier islands has been lost today to commercial development. A walk along the Nature Trail allows you to step back in time and experience a rare piece of old South Florida.

In addition to being open for public tours, Bonnet House hosts an annual week-long sparkling Holiday Magic festival of trees and décor, an annual series of outdoor music concerts, an annual orchid festival and offers adult educational programs in art, ornithology, orchid cultivation, and lectures as well as educational programs for Broward County schools and homeschool groups.

NSU Art Museum – located in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, The NSU Art Museum is home to diverse and innovative collections of art from around the world. Founded in 1958, NSU Art Museum aims to provide opportunities for individuals to access, learn from and be inspired by exceptional art from across the globe, and from different time periods. They have used their vast space (83,000 square feet, to be exact) to house over 6,000 works of art. They boast a wide array of collections that feature artists ranging from the American realist, William Glackens, to post-WWII, avant-garde artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam.

If you are passionate about art and culture, be sure to stop by one of Fort Lauderdale’s favorite spots!

Stranahan House & Museum – Stranahan House was constructed in 1901 by Frank Stranahan and his wife, Ivy Cromartie Stranahan, Ft. Lauderdale’s Founding Father and first school teacher, respectively. It is the oldest surviving structure in Broward County and has served multiple purposes in the county’s history. The Stranahan House & Museum is committed to
telling the fascinating story of the birth of our community through the Stranahan’s lives and the beautiful home they created.

Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the rich history of Fort Lauderdale through this gorgeous wood-frame vernacular structure, with wide porches and a stunning view of the New River!

Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum – This museum was established with the goal of preserving the history of the Packard Motor Co., and to demonstrate the progress of American engineering. With 22 Packard motor cars in working condition, The Ft. Lauderdale Antique Car Museum is proud to show some of the finest cars ever made. The 18,000 square foot building also contains thousands of pieces of memorabilia, and a separate gallery dedicated to the life of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and so much more.

See some of the finest automobiles in the world first hand at the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum. You won’t be disappointed!

Flamingo Gardens – Flamingo Gardens is home to one of the last natural jungle growths in South Florida, with over 3,000 tropical and subtropical plant species, including the largest tree in the state of Florida. Their Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to over 90 native species,
making it the largest collection of Florida Native wildlife in the state! The Flamingo Garden’s mission is to depict, preserve, and provide education about the natural and cultural heritage of South Florida and the Everglades.

These beautiful gardens, wildlife sanctuary, and historic Wray Home Museum have been delighting visitors of all ages for 90 years. Don’t miss this fun and educational South Florida attraction!

Fort Lauderdale Historical Society – The Fort Lauderdale Historical society is dedicated to preserving and sharing material from Ft. Lauderdale’s past so that present and future generations can stay connected to and inspired by their predecessors, and plant their own roots in our community. The Historical Society includes a 1907 house museum and three other 1905
historic structures, as well as a museum of changing and permanent exhibitions. They also offer docent-lead and self-guided tours 7 days/week.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to explore the fascinating history of South Florida at the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society on your next visit!

We hope that you’ll consider some of these exceptional attractions in addition to Bonnet House Museum & Gardens on your next visit! We are incredibly proud of our community and all that it has to offer. Happy exploring!

Exciting Events This Summer At Bonnet House

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This summer at Bonnet House is packed full of fun and exciting events! Regardless of your age or interests, Bonnet House will be offering something you and your whole family will be sure to enjoy. Throughout the summer, Bonnet House will be offering a series of Orchid Classes, monthly Cool Saturday’s, as well as special events to celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and The 4th of July. If you’re interested in Orchid Care, or gardening in general, be sure to attend our popular Orchid Care classes.

This August, Bonnet House will be hosting a series of three classes designed to help you make the most of your orchid growing experience. The first class will cover the basics of orchid care, and will introduce students to the various types of orchids, locations for growing, and more basic cultivation and watering techniques. The second class focuses on repotting and mounting orchids, with an emphasis on specific techniques and the use of different materials for mounting. The final class will go into detail about diagnosing pests and diseases. For more information about our Orchid Care classes or to register, click here.

On the first Saturday of every month, July through October 2019, Bonnet House will be hosting Cool Saturdays to give visitors the chance to view our beautiful estate at half price. Museum guests will be able to explore the whimsical house, our shell museum, and our nature trails throughout the gardens. The admission is only $10 for adults and free for children under 12 on July 6th, August 3rd, September 7th, and October 5th. We hope to see you there!

On the 4th of July, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Bonnet House will be offering discounted admission rates to celebrate the holidays. Admission on these dates will be $10 for adults, and children under twelve are free. Guests will be able to celebrate these holidays by learning about the importance of the estate to not only the South Florida community, but to the rest of the country. Visitors can also enjoy the holidays outdoors by visiting our lush gardens, and seeing some of Florida’s native plants and animals.

We hope you’ll come explore Bonnet House Museum & Gardens this summer. Whether you are a first time guest, or regular visitor, there is something new and exciting to be found at Bonnet House on every trip. For more information about visiting Bonnet House this summer, click here.

Historic Homes In The Broward County / Fort Lauderdale Area

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When Florida East Coast Railway was completed in the late 1800s, the Fort Lauderdale area experienced its first major land boom, and since then has grown into the large metropolitan city and popular tourist destination that we all know today. By the early half of the 20th century, many wealthy individuals and families moved to the area and built grand estates to accommodate their luxurious lifestyles. Bonnet House Museum & Gardens was one of these large estates located in the center of Fort Lauderdale, however there are many other historic estates in the Broward County community as well. Click here to learn more about Bonnet House history.

One such home is the Historic Needham Estate , located in downtown Fort Lauderdale. This 6,500 square foot estate was built in 1925 by world-renowned architect Francis Luis Abreu for John Wesley Needham, the first manager of the Broward Hotel. The home hosted many elegant gatherings, some were even attended by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Constructed in the Mediterranean Revival Style, most of the estate is still original and is currently used as an event venue.

The Stranahan House , located on the New River, was built in 1901 by businessman, Frank Stranahan. When the home was initially built, the lower floor served as the trading post for his business, and the upper floor was used as a community hall. But by 1906, his business interests expanded and he was able to renovate the building into a beautiful estate for his family. Throughout the history of the estate, the home was used for multiple public projects, as Mr. Stranahan and his wife, Ivy, took on leadership roles in the community. This estate has been open to the public for viewing as a historic house museum since 1981 and welcomes more than 10,000 visitors annually.

Built in 1908 in Pompano Beach, The Sample-McDougald home was designed based on the Colonial-Revival style made famous in Chester, South Carolina. The grounds were used primarily for agricultural purposes, where the Sample family grew commercial pineapples, as well as greens and peppers. In the early 1940s, the home as purchased by the McDougald family. William McDougald held many prominent positions in the local community, including Constable of North Broward and City Commissioner, while maintaining the homes agricultural efforts. Today, the home serves as a historic house and museum where guests can take tours, and enjoy various classes and concerts.

The Old Davie School, located in Davie, Florida, began accepting students in 1918 and was in continuous use until 1978. Prior to the 20th century, the dense swamp lands made Davie and the Fort Lauderdale area difficult to access. But after the turn of the century, Davie had developed a sizeable population and needed a suitable school that didn’t also serve as the town’s general store. The Old Davie school became the first permanent school in the Fort 5/8/2019 Historic Homes In The Broward County / Fort Lauderdale Area Lauderdale area, and is currently The Old Davie School Historical Museum, housing exhibits about life and agriculture during the development of Davie.

Like the folks at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, all of the individuals involved in the daily operations of these historic homes are passionate about preserving South Florida’s unique history. Our team at Bonnet House encourages you to visit all of the historic estates that South Florida has to offer. If you are interested in visiting Bonnet House specifically, you can purchase tickets online or in person.