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From the Collections Vault: Frederic’s Original Bonnet House Sketch

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Accession Number 2000.BH.267 – Frederic’s Original Bonnet House Sketch

Upon joining the Bonnet House family, I have had the pleasure and opportunity to slowly become familiar with the extensive collections both on exhibit and in our storage. There are many items that have been in storage for a good length of time because of many factors such as their preservation and the limited space available in the museum itself. I believe that every part of the collection pertaining to the Bonnet House is significant, and I would love to share with you some items in this new column that may or may not get the chance to see our visitors.

I came across a particularly significant piece of Bonnet House history when preparing our storage for a dehumidifier installation. In an unassuming frame with clear glass on both sides, showcasing the front and back of a piece of paper, was the original sketch Frederic Bartlett drew of his dream of the Bonnet House. The pre-1920 sketch appears to have been done first in pencil and then overlayed with an ink pen. It exhibits Frederic’s fantastic eye for detail, even in a small space such as this! Included in the sketch is a preliminary ground plan of the main house, the iconic cowfish entryway, as well as elements of the gingerbread roof and New Orleans-inspired upstairs ironwork railings. There is also a courtyard view of the studio side of the house and a beautiful rendering of the complete grounds: from the ocean, through the Chickee bridge, to the house itself and the original entryway beyond. Though age has yellowed and damaged the paper, and the ink has faded, it is still absolutely incredible.

This sketch was done on the opposite side of another piece of history – a Cordial Campari print. This black and white advertisement is in a radiating art nouveau style on glossy paper. Cordial Campari is an Italian raspberry liquor that was produced beginning in 1888. Posters such as these were distributed to bars and restaurants in Italy in the early 1900s to promote the brand – so this sketch may have been done while Frederic was in Europe!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into our stored collections. There is always a possibility that the items I will be writing about will find a place in our exhibits, whether permanently or through rotating displays. Keep in touch through our newsletters and blogs for much more to come.





Bonnet House: Upcoming Class Spotlight

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At Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, we are proud to offer a variety of unique opportunities for our guests and community members to learn something new. Whether you’re interested in learning about history or the environment, gaining a new appreciation for South Florida culture, or picking up a new skill, Bonnet House has something for everyone. In fact, some of our upcoming classes and workshops include opportunities to learn yoga, orchid drawing, portrait drawing, basket weaving, and watercolor painting.

On Wednesday, August 16th from 9:30 am-10:30 am, Bonnet House will be hosting Yoga On The Veranda . This class gives guests the opportunity to experience deep healing, restoration, and rejuvenation while enjoying a slow, sacred Hatha Yoga flow on the beautiful Bonnet House Veranda. This practice combines the fluidity and meditative aspects of poses (“asanas”) with breathing techniques (“pranayama”) in a slow pace to expand boundaries, enhance the mind-body connection, nourish the spirit, and unlock new levels of personal growth. You can register for this class and learn more here.

If you are interested in honing in on your drawing skills, Bonnet House is offering drawing classes that focus on orchids and portraits . On August 12th, from 9:30 am-12:30 pm, guests will be able to learn about layering colors and using various approaches to color, light, shadow, and form to create beautiful orchids. Additionally, on August 19th, from 9:30 am-12:30 pm, students will have another opportunity to learn various colored pencil techniques that focus on mastering the skills needed in order to create child portraits.

If watercolor painting is more up your alley, Bonnet House is offering guests the opportunity to join 3-day, 9-hour workshops that cover watercolor techniques for beginner , intermediate , and advanced levels. These classes will be taught by Barbara DiMartini and are extremely popular for artists of all ages and skill levels. To learn more, and to embark on this creative adventure, visit our event calendar.

This fall, Bonnet House is also excited to announce Basket Weaving With Charlee . This fun and interactive course will take place on October 27th, and October 28th from 10:00 am-3:00 pm. In this 5-hour basket weaving class, guests will start and finish their very own snack basket! Please be mindful that basket weaving can be a rather wet activity, and dyed reeds can stain your clothes. For this reason, it is recommended that you wear old clothing to this workshop.

Bonnet House has so many unique opportunities to expand your horizons this summer and fall. We hope that you and your loved ones are able to join us for some of these special events. To learn more about our various classes and workshops, and to plan your next trip to Bonnet House, click here .

Christmas In July: Planning For The Holidays

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When most people think about the month of July, they usually think of hot summer days, visiting the pool or the beach, and grilling outside. But here at Bonnet House, July marks the time when our thoughts begin to turn to cooler weather and holiday cheer. Each December, Bonnet House hosts the increasingly popular 5 Nights of Holiday Magic, and it is never too early to start preparations! To celebrate Christmas In July this year, we want to provide everyone with the latest information about how to get involved with these spectacular events and fundraisers.

In addition to being one of Fort Lauderdale’s top holiday attractions, Holiday Magic is one of Bonnet House’s largest fundraisers and is dedicated to the preservation of the estate. Our sixth annual Holiday Magic event will kick off in December of 2023 with a team of designers decorating Bonnet House trees, wreaths, and centerpieces that will be on sale to visitors throughout the first week of December.

Because 100% of the proceeds from tree, wreath, and centerpiece sales will directly benefit the Bonnet House estate, we are asking designers and decorators to donate their time, talent, and decorations to this worthy cause. Bonnet House will provide high-quality trees, wreaths, and centerpieces at no cost to the designer/decorator and can be picked up at Bonnet House. All designers will be able to choose the theme and color scheme of their pieces and put their creative skills to good use!

The specific size details of the provided pieces include:
● TREE SIZE: Tree sizes vary from 4’ and 7’. All trees will be pre-lit. Stands are provided
with each tree.
● WREATH SIZE: Door wreaths will be 36, 30 inches, and 24 inches.
● CENTERPIECES: Undecorated artificial centerpieces will be 36 inches.

If you are a talented designer or decorator, we hope that you will consider volunteering your time and talents to create a unique piece to benefit Bonnet House. Please contact us here for more information about how to pick up your provided pieces.

Upcoming Orchid Care Classes With Greenhouse Tour

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Summertime has arrived here in South Florida! Although it’s usually warm year-round in this region, we love to celebrate the season by highlighting some of the beautiful plant varieties that we are lucky enough to grow natively in Fort Lauderdale. Included in these plant varieties are an abundance of orchids. Not only do we allow guests to view our beautiful orchids throughout our estate property, but we also offer our visitors the unique opportunity to learn what it takes to grow stunning orchids of their own!

This August, we will be hosting our extremely popular Orchid Care Classes for both beginners and experienced growers. These interesting classes will cover both the basics of orchid care and more advanced techniques. These classes will be taught by our Orchid Curator, Jose Exposito, and his fantastic team of orchid care experts on staff at Bonnet House.

Our Orchid Care Basics class will take place on Tuesday, August 8th, 2023 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am, and again from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. In this class, students will be introduced to the many types of orchids and will even learn how to select the best locations for growing. Students will also be given instructions regarding basic cultivation techniques, including those regarding watering and fertilization.

To learn about more advanced orchid care techniques, our intermediate classes will take place on Tuesday, August 15th, 2023 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am, and again from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. These classes will cover all aspects of transplanting orchids, with a special emphasis on the techniques and uses of different materials including cork, driftwood, plaques, baskets, and more.

One of the most interesting and popular components of these classes includes a special tour of our greenhouse. Our greenhouse is filled with a variety of perfectly cared-for orchids, and more. During this tour, guests will learn exclusive details about our orchid care techniques and have the opportunity to ask our expert Orchid Curator questions.

Regardless of your knowledge of orchid care techniques, we hope to see you at our upcoming orchid classes this August. These classes are very popular and will fill up quickly, so be sure to reserve your spot today!

Preserving Bonnet House

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The Bonnet House property was purchased in 1895 by Hugh Taylor Birch. While the property had already experienced over 4,000 years of Florida history at the time it was purchased, the state of Florida looked nothing like it does today. Although much time has passed, the Bonnet House property still encompasses one of the last examples in South Florida of a native barrier island habitat. We are fortunate to be one of the few places in Florida to include five distinct ecosystems and an abundance of native plants and wildlife.

These five unique ecosystems include the Atlantic Ocean beach and primary dune, a freshwater slough, the secondary dune which includes the house site, mangrove wetlands, and a maritime forest. To complement the natural vegetation, the grounds also contain a Desert Garden composed of arid plantings, a hibiscus garden, and the main courtyard planted with tropical vegetation.

Our stunning variety of tropical vegetation includes but is not limited to mangroves, saw palmetto, blue porter weed, wild coffee, bougainvillea, and plumeria. Bonnet House also showcases various blooming examples of orchids in our greenhouses and throughout the estate all year round.

If you are interested in learning more about our fascinating ecosystems, and specific plant varieties, we encourage you to participate in our Education Programs. Our Educational Programming enlivens our mission statement and supports Florida’s B.E.S.T. Standards by offering onsite classes, field trips, and virtual lessons in Florida history, nature, art, and design.

These programs:
● Integrate character education
● Involve hands-on activities
● Provide various choices of curriculum enrichment
● Conform to the National Trust for Historic Preservation curriculum guidelines

Here at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, we pride ourselves on providing unique and interesting opportunities for our guests to learn more about our estate, its owners, and Florida’s beautiful ecosystems. But none of this would be possible without our passionate and engaging volunteers. These dedicated individuals help us to educate guests, and care for our many species of plants. Our volunteers are truly the heart and soul of Bonnet House and they make all of our goals come to fruition.

Whether it’s everyday operations, special evening events, or gardening, Bonnet House couldn’t operate as it does without our team of volunteers. Volunteers have a variety of different opportunities to serve at Bonnet House. If you have any questions or wish to join our team of volunteers at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, please call (954) 703-2606 or click here

Preserving Bonnet House through our Youth

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Evelyn Bartlett stated that she never wanted Bonnet House to change.  Neither do those of us who support the beauty and spontaneity of Bonnet House through our work, service, tranquil visits, and colorful inspiration.  Some of the same things that spark our own playful natures are reflected on the faces of students who visit Bonnet House for onsite Field Trips.  The innocence of being set free in 35-acres of lush landscape replete with a colorful home and courtyard recalls the excitement of special moments in our own childhood.  Is it not a wonder then to realize that the true act of preserving Bonnet House for all time is through our Youth?

This 2022-23 academic year, Bonnet House Museum welcomed 1,830 students and their teachers for onsite field trips.  These fresh and free minds traveled back in time witnessing old Fort Lauderdale blossom into the international city of today just by walking up and over ancient sand dunes.  They followed tidal shifts along the mangrove canals, were charmed by an anhinga fishing in the slough, witnessed all the hues of green along our maritime hammock path, and peeked at a racoon peering out from sprawling branches.  Sometimes, they trekked through rain, but it was worth every drop.  Imagine students who ran up the beach path to see the Atlantic Ocean for the very first time!

Bonnet House Onsite Field Trip Information and Registration can be found by clicking here.  Teachers choose from several programs including, Art, Ecology and History including 2 programs with Stranahan House about the early history of Fort Lauderdale.

The regular Field Trip rate is $8 for our 2-hour program onsite or $14 for a dual program with both Bonnet House and Stranahan House.  It might be surprising to know how difficult it can be for some youth groups to participate, because they must raise money for their students through fundraising.  The Special Rate for Title 1 Schools is $4 per student.  In all, Bonnet House Field Trips become memorable experiences for each young person.  Our special Volunteer Guides broaden the view of this new world through stories from the one-hundred-three-year history of Bonnet House.  A stop at the South Gate Circle takes students even further back when seeing and touching artifacts from a timeline representing Tequesta People and Spanish Explorers who walked through these same natural spaces long ago.

The exceptional thing to realize is that no field trip is ever the same twice.  Even impressions between the groups of students varies dependent upon the time they are viewing the outside realm before entering the sights and sounds of the inner courtyard.  The same school can leave with completely different perspectives from one student to the next.

Moments become memories that last a lifetime.  The special effects of a place and time shape each child with an appreciation for nature, art, design, and a sense of belonging. Building Community was at the heart of the Birch and Bartlett families.  This is still evident today through the Members, Donors, Artists, Volunteers, Visitors, Guests, and Youth who share this kindred spirit.  As we look into the future to preserve and protect the elements of Bonnet House that keep us engaged in its survival, we must promote a palette of experiences for youth to forge future stewardship.  Afterall, it is they who will paint the world.  From these special connections, they will choose to protect and preserve Bonnet House in their own timelines.


How To Plan Your Perfect Wedding At Bonnet House

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Planning a wedding can often feel like a daunting, overwhelming task. With so much to plan, coordinate, and choose from, wedding planning can easily turn special moments into stressful checklists. Here at Bonnet House, we believe that planning a wedding should be a magical experience, and we work every day to ensure that our happy couples are smiling throughout the entire process. If you’re thinking about planning a wedding at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, here are a few things you can expect.

The Bonnet House estate spans 35 acres, and offers a variety of exquisite settings for weddings of any size and aesthetic. 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. Our dramatic spaces, such as the Hibiscus Garden, fountain courtyard, water front veranda, and tree-lined alee all provide memorable possibilities for your wedding ceremony. Aside from the exclusive use of Bonnet House property for your wedding, we also provide:

● Use of the property for photography two hours before ceremony
● Private use of upstairs bridal suite
● Personal Bridal Assistant
● Ceremony and Front Door Hostess
● Complimentary tram service for guests to be escorted from the parking lot to the main house.
● Free parking
● Rehearsal and Ceremony coordination
● Ceremony microphone and speakers
● Two hours for set up and one hour for clean up

Bonnet House showcases a rare combination of historical beauty with modern comforts and conveniences to ensure that all in attendance are properly accommodated for. We are happy to work with any gay, lesbian or other LGBTQ+ couple interested in having a beautiful wedding to create memories that will last a lifetime. We are truly proud to work with any couple, regardless of their sexual or gender identities.

Our rental fee covers only the venue, however, the estate works with many pre-approved caterers and vendors to suit every budget and design goal. Bonnet House makes no warranties or representation as to the quality of any vendor. For your protection, please obtain a copy of the vendor’s current license and/or insurance, so that you can be sure they are covered on the day of your event.

Our historic estate is a wonderful place to create lasting memories with loved ones. We hope that you consider Bonnet House Museum & Gardens as you plan your upcoming ceremony. For more information or to set up an appointment please complete our online form , or call (954) 703-2608 or email [email protected].

Plan Your Next Visit To Bonnet House

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School is out for the summer and we couldn’t be more excited about all of the fun activities available to our guests this season! Whether you’re interested in spending time outdoors in nature, or inside learning about history, we have everything you and your family need to have a blast this summer.

Here in South Florida, we are no strangers to crowded beaches, and large groups of tourists. If you’re looking for a way to be outside on the water without dealing with large crowds, we have the perfect solution for you. Kayaking and paddle boarding are great ways to stay cool on the water, while also getting some exercise! Bonnet House Museum & Gardens has partnered with Fort Lauderdale Adventures to offer visitors the unique opportunity to kayak or paddle board through our secluded Coconut Cove. To learn more and to book your experience, click here.

Beginning on June 1st and lasting through September 3rd, Bonnet House will also be hosting our annual Summer Family Special. This special deal includes $20.00 admission rates for adults and free admission for any individual 17 and under (accompanied by adult). This is the perfect opportunity for you and your family to experience what life was like on a beachfront estate in the 1930s and 1940s while learning about the historic and ecological significance of the property.

The Summer Family Special is available Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, and tickets can be purchased at the Welcome Center.

With Fathers Day right around the corner, we could not forget to include a special way for Fathers to feel celebrated this year. On Sunday, June 18th, 2023 fathers will receive free admission to Bonnet House Museum & Gardens with the purchase of one additional ticket. Whether your dad enjoys art, culture, history, or nature, there will be something new for him to learn and enjoy at our estate.

There is so much to look forward to this season at Bonnet House! As the kids are out of school, we hope that you can consider bringing your family to visit our remarkable estate and create lasting memories. To purchase tickets and start planning your next visit, click here.

Bonnet House Gardens, Grounds & Exotic Plants

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In addition to its historic significance, the Bonnet House property encompasses one of the most interesting arrays of ecosystems in the state of Florida. In fact, the property contains five distinct ecosystems including the Atlantic Ocean beach and primary dune, a freshwater slough, the secondary dune which includes the house site, mangrove wetlands, and a maritime forest. Given this fascinating assortment of natural landscapes, it is not surprising that a variety of interesting plant and animal species can be found throughout the estate grounds and gardens.

To complement the beauty of the natural vegetation, the Bonnet House grounds contain a desert garden composed of arid plantings, a hibiscus garden, and an orchid display house. Additionally, the main courtyard is planted with stunning tropical vegetation. Our property is also home to a myriad of migratory birds, manatees, raccoons, turtles, and even a wild monkey!

When it comes to the specific plant species that can be found throughout the estate, the Jaboticaba Tree and Bleeding Heart Vine are two of our most exotic varieties. The Jaboticaba Tree is often referred to as the “Brazilian Grape Tree” because it produces large quantities of dark-colored, round fruits that cover the tree’s bark. Prior to producing these fruits, the tree forms white, fuzzy blooms that are stunning to view in person.

The Bleeding Heart Vine is also a crowd favorite and is especially popular among photographers. The Bleeding Heart Vine is native to the tropical regions of West Africa. When this plant flowers, their beautiful balloon-like, white and crimson petals make for a truly stunning feature. This plant will bloom for several months, so it can be enjoyed for quite a while on our property.

In addition to these exotic plant varieties, Bonnet House also features a unique selection of orchids. Visitors from all over the world enjoy visiting our orchid display house and taking our popular orchid care classes. In these courses, students will join our orchid curator, Jose Exposito, to learn about the different types of orchids, and how to care for them properly. Our next orchid care course will take place on August 8th at 9:30 am.

This spring and summer will be great times to visit the Bonnet House estate to experience the various flora and fauna that call this place home. We hope that you include a visit to Bonnet House on your next trip to Fort Lauderdale. To learn more, and plan your next visit, click here.