Truly unique among our nation’s historic houses and gardens, Bonnet House is also one of its most beautiful and popular visitor destinations. Located in a 35-acre slice of breathtaking waterfront property in Fort Lauderdale, this bright and airy plantation-style house magically transports visitors to the days when Florida was one of the nation’s last frontier outposts. The story told here is every bit as magical as the house itself, and it spans and parallels a wide swath of American history, making a visit to the estate a uniquely educational and entertaining experience.
Built in the 1920’s by artist and art collector Frederic Clay Bartlett and his wife, Helen, Bonnet House is embellished with the myriad decorative elements that delight visitors to this day. After Frederic’s death in 1953, Evelyn Fortune Bartlett continued visiting her Fort Lauderdale home every winter, and in 1983, she gave Bonnet House to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. At that time the largest charitable gift in Florida history, her contribution ensured that the site would be preserved for the enjoyment and education of future generations.
Frederic Bartlett’s vivid artistry is fully reflected throughout the house, as he painted faux marble floors, and murals on walls and wood ceilings in major rooms. Extensive areas of native vegetation including a hardwood hammock were preserved, and a marshy area to the east of the house was transformed into lagoons. The gardens and winding nature trails surrounding the house, and the wildlife inhabiting the grounds, are every bit as colorful, with swans and other waterfowl gliding in the ponds, and raccoons and even the occasional South American squirrel monkeys adding to the vibrant and diversified palette of flora and fauna.
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, please call (954) 563-5393 or visit BonnetHouse.org.