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International Orchid & Garden Festival Returning To Bonnet House

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One of the most popular events of the spring season is returning to Bonnet House! This year, our 15th Annual International Orchid & Garden Festival will take place on April 6th and 7th, 2024. This Festival welcomes orchid enthusiasts and plant lovers alike to vividly experience (and even purchase!) diverse, colorful, and fragrant varieties of orchids, tropical plants, herbs, and fruit trees sold by local and international vendors.

The two-day event will be taking place from 9:00am-4:00pm, rain or shine. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy orchid and tropical plant displays, food vendors, libations, garden art, orchid care & general gardening lectures, live music and much more. This year we have even added a Tropical Luau Lunch on the beautifully decorated waterfront veranda. This delectable meal will include a full buffet, Mai Tais, wine and beer, live Tahitian music, and hula dancers. Lunch attendees are also welcome to take a leisurely stroll through the estate and Orchid Display house.

The International Orchid & Garden Festival is a fantastic way to welcome spring time and learn more about unique growing opportunities right here in South Florida. In addition to the Tropical Luau Lunch, throughout the festival, guests will have the opportunity to learn from highly experienced experts about various topics including:

● Orchid Mounting (Saturday, April 6th from 10:00am-11:00am)
● Growing Roses In South Florida (Saturday, April 6th from 11:30am-12:30pm)
● Orchid Growing 101 (Saturday, April 6th from 1:30pm-2:30pm)
● Florida Unique Ecosystems & Native Orchids (Sunday, April 7th from 10:00am-11:00am)
● Growing A Butterfly Garden (Sunday, April 7th from 11:30am-12:30pm)
● Growing Cattleya Orchids (Sunday, April 7th from 1:00pm-2:00pm)

Parking is free for the festival, and admission to the festival is $15 per person. Admission for the self-guided house tour is an additional $10, but children under 12 are free. Tickets for the Tropical Luau Lunch are $100 and include admission to the festival.

We hope that you and your loved ones are able to attend this fantastic event. Come prepared to enjoy live music, eat excellent food, learn new things, and have fun! To learn more about this event and purchase tickets, click here.


From the Collections Vault: Archival Binder: Staff – Marie Hawkins Little

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For Women’s History Month here in the Bonnet House blog we are celebrating the life of Marie Hawkins Little (1911-2008). Marie was seventeen years old when she came to Bonnet House as kitchen maid for the Birch-Bartlett family in the 1920s. At the request of Evelyn Bartlett, Marie became head cook in the 1930s. She lived in the building next to the Orchid House. In our archives, we have an archival binder dedicated to the employees of the Birchs and Bartletts. As I began researching to create new signage in the Caretaker’s Cottage, I came across this particularly incredible woman whose obituary and celebration of life pamphlet are included in that binder. Not only was she a treasured staff member at Bonnet House, she and her family were also Fort Lauderdale pioneers. Marie’s sister, Gussie Pope, was employed as a housekeeper here as well. Her cousin Dewey Hawkins was a caretaker and chauffeur for Hugh Taylor Birch and the Bartletts. Dewey’s wife, Arneather Hawkins, was a laundress, and they were the first family to live in the Caretaker’s Cottage. Their nephew Alonzia Nash and niece Irene Riley Hart came to live with them as well in the 1930s. Irene went on to serve on the Bonnet House Board of Directors from 1995-2001 and was a Bonnet House ambassador since her time living here. Quite a remarkable family!

Here is Marie’s beautifully written obituary, by Gregory Lewis, staff writer at the Sun-Sentinel:

“Marie Hawkins Little, a member of a pioneering Fort Lauderdale family who taught migrant workers and Seminoles how to cook and eat healthful meals, died Sunday after a five-month illness. She was 96.

Mrs. Little was born Nov. 21, 1911, in Eve, a Central Florida town her father named. The family moved to Fort Lauderdale in October 1924. She attended the Colored School, now Dillard High School, which had only eight grades. She graduated in 1932 from high school at Luther Merner Colored School in Daytona Beach.

Mrs. Little made a living with her culinary skills after graduation, working at Delta Tea Shop in Fort Lauderdale and as the head cook in the 1930s for the families of Hugh Taylor Birch and Mr. Fredrick (sic) Clay Bartlett at what is now known as the historic Bonnet House.

In the 1970s, the Broward Board of Education hired her as a home economics teacher in the adult education program, in which she visited migrant workers and Seminole Indians to teach them healthy eating and cooking skills.

‘She was a gourmet cook,’ said her granddaughter-in-law Michelle Blakely of Plano, Texas. ‘She could cook food of any ethnicity, soul food and her own recipes. But she was famous for her molasses cookies and oyster stew.’

A long-time member of St. Christopher Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, Mrs. Little was recognized in the late 1980s as a pioneer by the Broward County commissioners and the Historical Society.

She was a grandmother to the children and younger adults, who called her ‘Grampy’ in her northwest Fort Lauderdale neighborhood. She was honored by various organizations for here community service, including the Les Bon Amie Club.

Mrs. Little is also survived by her daughter Clytimus Austin, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.”

Marie had a great relationship with Evelyn Bartlett. Marie often referred to her as “Madam” which tickled Evelyn every time. Together they would confer on the weekly menu, and Evelyn regularly raved about Marie’s cooking. In the attached photos you will see Marie (in pink), with her cousin Arneather on Bonnet House property in the 1930s, as well as in 2002 with Irene Riley Hart (dark hair) reminiscing in the Kitchen. We thank you, Marie, for your work for the residents and visitors of Bonnet House.

New, more informational signage on the cottage, its first family, Birch and Bartlett employees (including Marie), and a panel dedicated to Irene Riley Hart will be on display by the end of the month in our Caretaker’s Cottage. Stop by to learn more!

To get to know more about Marie Hawkins Little and the Hawkins family, visit Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and History Fort Lauderdale:

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park | Florida State Parks

Homepage – History Fort Lauderdale


New Spring Events Coming To Bonnet House

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At Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, our team does everything they can to ensure that Bonnet House is enjoyable and educational for all age groups. Whether you’re an elementary school student excited to go on an adventure through our tropical gardens, or a seasoned artist hoping to find inspiration for your next piece, there is surely something for everyone to enjoy at Bonnet House. This Spring season is no exception, and we couldn’t be happier to announce upcoming drawing classes, a fascinating speaker series, the Spring Nourishment for the Soul events, and special admission rates for Family Day.

Starting this March, we are excited to announce two upcoming drawing classes for intermediate and advanced students. The first class will take place on Saturday, March 9th from 9:30am-12:30pm and will teach students how to create a colorful bird, along with various shading and line drawing techniques. This class will be hosted by award-winning artist and Bonnet House Instructor, Galal Ramadam in our air-conditioned Island Theatre.

The second drawing class will take place on Saturday, March 16th from 9:30am-3:30pm and will cover advanced portrait drawing. In this class, students will learn how to create realistic skin tones, master how to “whisper” and “scream” with colored pencils, understand how to simplify without losing realism, gain confidence in their skills, and much more. This course will also be taught by award-winning artist and Bonnet House Instructor, Galal Ramadam in our air-conditioned Island Theatre.

Additionally, on March 11th Bonnet House will be continuing our popular speaker series with Clare Vickery. Founder of Grace Arts Gallery, Clare Vickery will be discussing the interesting history of Florida’s Saltwater Railroad. This discussion will have a particular emphasis on the women who influenced its creation and history. This event is free for members, and $5 for non-members, and registration is required by 2:30 on March 8th.

We have added a new event this spring which includes mindfulness and live music, Spring Nourishment for the Soul: Mindful Movement w/ Live Sacred Music. Join us on Wednesday, March 20th from 6:30-8:30pm for an enchanting spring equinox evening. Immerse yourself in a transformative experience filled with mindful movement, meditation, and a live sacred music concert.

To wrap up the month of March, we are also excited to announce that we will be offering free admission to kids 13 and under, and Broward County school teachers (with ID) on March 23rd. During this special Family Fun Day , kids and families will not only have the opportunity to explore the historic estate and gardens, but also enjoy a free classical concert presented by the Gold Coast Youth Orchestra, and even meet Bonnet House reenactors in each room!

Whether you’re 8 or 80 years old, there is something fun for everyone to enjoy at Bonnet House! We hope that you and your loved ones are able to take advantage of some of the fun events taking place at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens during the month of March. To learn more about our estate, and to plan your next visit, click here!

From the Bonnet House Education Department

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Bonnet House STEM Learning Outreach and Family Fun Day

This Winter, the Bonnet House Education Department has been busy promoting STEM Hands-On Learning in and around town!  With generous funding from the Community Foundation of Broward, Bonnet House has participated in educational outreach in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties.  Our Mission is to connect our historic home and grounds with similar historical locations sharing Florida-focused preservation, conservation, and stewardship.

On February 3rd, Bonnet House presented a STEM Design-A-Dome Architecture program for the 9th Annual Children’s Festival at the Coral Gables Woman’s Club in Coral Gables, Florida.  In existence since 1923, the CGWC is part of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs which is the oldest and largest women’s volunteer service organization in the world. Children and their families used toothpicks, gum drops, and their imaginations to construct tabletop geodesic domes to celebrate the Centennial+1 of the CGWC Historic Building.

On February 10th, Bonnet House hosted a table at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach, Florida to kick-off a weeklong Everglades Days Celebration.  As one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the Nation, Loxahatchee NWR provides habitat, food, water, shelter, and space to more than 250 species of birds, 60 species of reptiles and amphibians, 40 species of butterflies, and 20 types of mammals, many of which are Endangered or Threatened. Students and their families learned about Bonnet House, the Florida Aquifer, and its importance to the Everglades from our STEM Water Filtration project.

In March, Bonnet House will host our Family Fun Day on Saturday, March 23rd from 9:00a – 3:00p featuring two Classical Concerts by the Gold Coast Youth Orchestra. Guests will have the opportunity to take Self-guided Tours, challenge Florida History knowledge with Rhymes & Ciphers, meet Bonnet House Reenactors representing our Birch and Bartlett Families, walk with the Barefoot Mailman to the House of Refuge, and learn Architectural Design with Broward Architect Bruce Davis, AIA.  In our historic Fruit Grove, FWS Loxahatchee NWR will join us for Python Awareness and Wildlife Conservation Games.  Guest Visits from the City of Fort Lauderdale K9 and Mounted Police Units will take place throughout the day.  Photos are encouraged!

Outreach would not be complete without Collaboration to build our STEM Learning Programs.  We welcome Bruce Davis, AIA, of BD Architect LLC, BAM Broward Chapter of Black Architects in the Making, and Stacey Boynton, President South Florida Chapter, NOMA, National Organization of Minority Architects, who are developing our NEW STEM Design Series as part of our Green Connect Youth Stewardship Studies Program at Bonnet House.

Join us as Stewards to the legacy of preserving our natural environment as initiated by our Bonnet House Birch and Bartlett Families.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

Click here to learn more about Family Fun Day

Bonnet House Hosts Spring Nourishment for the Soul

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Mindful Movement, Meditation with Bonnet House Resident Yoga Instructor Lisa Pumper, and a Live Sacred Music Concert with Composer Richard Brookens|

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

WHAT: For an enchanting spring equinox evening, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens will host a Spring Nourishment for the Soul evening class and music concert
• Whether you are seeking relaxation, personal growth, or simply a break from everyday business, this is the perfect event as the spring season starts. Guests will immerse themselves in a transformative experience of mindful movement, meditation, and a live sacred music concert. A candlelight ritual will also be held to set intentions and plant our seeds of renewal.
• Meeting at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens veranda, attendees will embark on a journey of self-discovery and inner peace.
• During this event, guests of all ages will have the opportunity to be guided into gentle yin movements, designed to help you connect with your body, release tension, and cultivate a sense of mindfulness. with leading Yoga teacher Lisa Pumper.
• Attendees will be fully present in the moment and experience the transcendent magic of South Florida’s beloved arranger/composer and multi-instrumentalist performer, Richard Brookens, whose sacred musical vibrations will move you into pure transformation and tranquility in nature.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 20, 2024
Grounds open at 4:30 pm for a stroll through the gardens before class.
Class Sessions are from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
900 North Birch Road
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33304

• This event is Rain or Shine.
• Pre-registration is required. Tickets are $45 for Members and $50 for Non-members. To purchase tickets please click here.
• Tickets include the event, light beverages, spring equinox candle gift, exploring the grounds & free private parking. Space is limited, book early to ensure your spot.
• Guests should dress comfortably, wear walking shoes, and bring a towel.
• Chairs will be provided to sit for movements, meditation, and music.
• If needed, floor yoga mats will be provided for anyone who wants to sit on the floor for movement and meditation.

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Upcoming Speaker Series At Bonnet House

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If you’re familiar with Fort Lauderdale, you likely already know that Bonnet House Museum & Gardens has been a predominant feature in the heart of the downtown area for over one hundred years. But have you ever wondered exactly how that came to be? How was this one piece of beach-front property able to be preserved for so long? And what made it so special? Well you can have all of these questions, and many more, answered during our Speaker Series beginning on February 12th.

To kick off this fascinating series, author and historian J. Kent Planck will be discussing “ The Making Of Bonnet House ” on February 12th, from 10:00-11:30am. This online and in-person lecture will trace the making of Bonnet House from its origins up to the modern day. In this lecture, you will learn about:

● Bonnet House’s original site as a sailors’ house of refuge
● The estate’s construction, enhancement, and decoration by its designer Frederic Bartlett
● It’s preservation as an historic house museum by Bartlett’s widow Evelyn
● Bonnet House’s difficult separation from its original preserving organization in order to
ensure its financial stability into the future

Through pictures and stories about all the difficulties and controversies along the way, Planck weaves a comprehensive, informational and entertaining tour through nearly 150 years of what has made Bonnet House the unparalleled Museum it is today. Registration for this event is free for members, and $5 for non-members. Registration is required by February 9th at 2:30pm.

If you enjoy the first portion of our speaker series, you will likely also enjoy our March series feature. On March 14th, Founder of Grace Arts Gallery, Clare Vickery will be discussing the interesting history of Florida’s Saltwater Railroad. This discussion will have a particular emphasis on the influential women who influenced its creation and history. To learn more about this lecture and to register to attend in person or via Zoom, click here.

Bonnet House works hard to ensure that there are always a variety of speakers and events to educate and inspire our guests. We hope that you are able to attend one or both of these events either in person or via Zoom. To learn more and to plan your next visit to Bonnet House, click here.

From the Collections Vault: Portrait and photographs of Jeff Lockett

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Accession Number 1990.FB.006

This February we celebrate Black History Month on our blog by acknowledging and honoring people of color who were connected to Bonnet House. In this blog we will look at the life and contributions of Jeff Lockett.

Jeff Lockett was one of Fort Lauderdale’s earliest African American pioneers. Coming from Georgia in the 1890s with Senator Thomas E. Watson, Lockett was then hired by Hugh Taylor Birch as the caretaker of his land. This land included the property Bonnet House resides on today. But to Birch, Lockett was more than a caretaker and town representative for him; Jeff became, in his own words, “a faithful and dear friend”. He came to be well-known around town and gained the nicknames “Old Jeff” and “Uncle Jeff”.

According to the article “Fort Lauderdale’s African-American Pioneers” by Susan Gillis, “A document dated 1924 shows that he was the owner of a dredge (a fairly valuable vessel), which he sold to C.J. West and then dredged out the canal and lagoon around the Bonnet House. Lockett maintained a long acquaintance with the West family; West’s brother served as caretaker at the Bonnet House property. From this friendship came a wonderful portrait of Lockett, given by West as a token of his esteem.” We know that painting well here at Bonnet House, as it resides in our Drawing Room and is a highlight of that space. It was painted by Frederic Clay Bartlett, who married Birch’s daughter, Helen. They lived here at the house for a few winters before Helen passed away in 1925. The article goes on to state: “According to county probate records, she (Helen Birch Bartlett) left Lockett $1000 – a considerable sum at the time.”

Jeff Lockett obviously made an impression during his time here on Earth and was respected and valued in the community. He continued working at the Birch estate until 1930 and passed away in 1934 at the age of 82. We thank you for your passionate and dedicated work on this land, “Uncle Jeff”.

The photographs you see here are of Jeff Lockett and Helen Birch Bartlett on a coconut-collecting expedition in the early 1910s, a solo photograph from the early 1920s, and the portrait of him by Frederic Clay Bartlett,  painted in the 1920s.







To learn more about Jeff Lockett and Hugh Taylor Birch, visit Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and History Fort Lauderdale:

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park | Florida State Parks

Homepage – History Fort Lauderdale

Maintain Your New Year’s Resolutions WIth Upcoming Classes At Bonnet House

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Well, folks, the new year has finally arrived! It’s hard to believe that after the craziness of the holiday season, we are now a few weeks into 2024! If you’re like many people, you have likely been trying to maintain your New Year’s resolution(s) as the year progresses. Maybe you’ve resolved to be more active, invest in a new hobby, or practice mindfulness. Whatever you have chosen to take on in 2024, we have you covered with a variety of fun and unique upcoming classes at Bonnet House!

Yoga is a wonderful way to not only stay active, but it can also improve flexibility and focus. On February 9th, we invite you to experience a topical treat surrounded by the beauty of nature, with an all-levels, slow vinyasa yoga flow on our veranda. This class will sequence together your basic yoga poses with breathing techniques in a fluid, meditative, and invigorating way. To learn more about this refreshing class and to register, click here.

Perhaps your New Year’s resolution was more centered around artistic practices. This year, Bonnet House is proud to announce that in February, we will begin a variety of classes for both new and advanced artists.

Starting on February 3rd, we will begin a 4-week Intro To Colored Pencil Drawing Workshop where artists will learn colored pencil techniques that will help them create stunning artwork without years of experience. For those more interested in painting, we will begin two 6-week Oil/Acrylic Painting Workshops, starting on February 20th & 22nd. These classes will be taught by Bonnie Opie and are perfect for artists of all skill levels. Additionally, Bonnet House is excited to provide opportunities for budding watercolor artists starting on February 28th. Guests can join fine artist Barbara DiMartini for a 6-week series covering traditional techniques.

Getting outside alongside nature can be a great way to practice mindfulness and cope with stressful situations. Fortunately, our Fort Lauderdale beachside location makes it easy to spend time outside during all seasons of the year. To help visitors feel more connected with the natural world around them, we have upcoming Birding Classes that are open to members and non-members. Starting on February 4th, guests will have the opportunity to gain knowledge about flight and feeding behaviors that are unique to a variety of birds. The class also focuses on commonly found birds that can be spotted in yards and local parks. The class will even include an informative PowerPoint, numerous handouts, and a fun birding activity.

There are so many great opportunities to maintain your New Year’s resolutions well into 2024 with Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. We hope that you and your loved ones are able to attend at least one of our upcoming classes or workshops this season. To learn more about our historic estate, and to plan your next visit, click here.

orchid festival

Looking Forward To 2024 At Bonnet House

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2023 was an incredible year at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. From our exciting new classes, to our Holiday Magic events, we were able to delight and educate guests of all ages, from all across the world. Looking ahead to 2024, we couldn’t be more thrilled about what is in store! This coming year, we are happy to announce fun, educational events like our 15th Annual Orchid & Garden Festival, a new Bonnet House Speaker Series, and relaxing yoga classes on the veranda.

This year, Bonnet House is once again excited to announce our 15th annual Orchid & Garden Festival . This extremely popular event will take place this Spring on Saturday, April 6th & Sunday, April 7th. During this popular event, guests will have the opportunity to learn more about orchids and find beautiful new specimens to add to their collections. Visitors should also be sure to stop by the Orchid Display House (part of the Shell Museum Complex) to see a sampling of Evelyn Bartlett’s original orchid collection.

In 2024, Bonnet House will also be hosting an educational speaker series starting on January 8th from 10:00-11:30 AM. These unique lectures will be available both in person and via Zoom. To kick off these lectures, we have invited Stephanie Brinez, Endangered Species Interventions Specialist with Bat Conservation International. She will be taking the time to discuss Bats At Bonnet House, and answer your questions. Registration for this event is required by January 6th at 2:30 PM.

Additionally, we will be continuing our Yoga On The Veranda event series into 2024. These classes will allow you to experience a tropical treat surrounded by the beauty of nature, with an all-levels, slow vinyasa yoga flow with a fun world-fusion music playlist! The January 5th session will sequence together your basic yoga poses with breathing techniques in a fluid, meditative, and invigorating way. Adventurous yogis are invited to try variations of postures as they are offered. Each student is encouraged to expand boundaries, and celebrate a fun and energizing flow practice. At the end of the class, we will invite you to settle into deep rest and guided relaxation in nature. Participants will also receive a cool-down aromatherapy refresher, inspirational message card, and warm tea to support your amazing day.

There is truly so much to look forward to in 2024 at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. We sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are able to visit us for some of our new and exciting upcoming events. To learn more, and plan your next visit to Bonnet House, click here , or call (954) 563-5393.

Bonnet House: A Unique Venue For All Occasions

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Did you know that Bonnet House is one of the top event venues in Fort Lauderdale? Well, it’s true! Spanning 35 acres on Fort Lauderdale Beach, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens offers a variety of exquisite settings for events of any size, each unique in its own way. Whether you are planning a close and intimate gathering or a grand and lavish affair, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens sets the scene for romance and timeless memories.

With its perfect beach-front location, its spacious tropical gardens, and its ornate Main House, the Bonnet House property was made for people to enjoy themselves and create special memories. This is why we take great care to
provide our guests with the ability to host their special events in our historic estate.

With our tree-lined alee, garden courtyard, waterfront veranda, hibiscus garden, and the Bonnet House Beach, it is not surprising that Bonnet House is a premier destination for outdoor weddings. Couples looking for unique old-world charm combined with understated elegance can find all of that and more within close proximity to downtown Fort Lauderdale.

In addition to weddings, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is the perfect place to host anniversary celebrations, birthday parties, family reunions, memorials, corporate events, and much more! In fact, Alexander Event Catering has partnered with Bonnet House to serve all of your event and catering needs. A more extensive list of pre-approved vendors that have experience on the property is also available.

As you plan your next event, we hope that you will consider Bonnet House Museum & Gardens for your rental space. Your event will be truly unique and will offer your guests unforgettable memories. Click here to view available dates for rentals.