Historic Fort Lauderdale Tour: Bonnet House Upstairs/Downstairs Tour

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While South Florida has become popular in recent decades for its thriving nightlife and entertainment scene, beautiful beaches, and unique wildlife, the South Florida community also contains tremendous historic significance that’s just waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Here in Fort Lauderdale, for example, there are many historic tours throughout the city, including right here at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. In fact, Bonnet House is currently offering guided Upstairs/Downstairs tours, as well as other group and specialty tours throughout the estate.

On the second and fourth Wednesday of every month from January through April, Bonnet House will be hosting guided Upstairs/Downstairs tours from 2pm-4pm. Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in a VIP tour of the main house that includes a sneak peek inside areas that are typically closed, including Evelyn and Frederic Bartlett’s private living quarters. These tours are led in groups of ten by our seasoned docents and will be offered for $35 per person. Limited reservations are available, and pre-registration is required.

On the second Tuesday of each month from January through April, Bonnet House will also offer guided tours of our Orchid Greenhouse from 11am-12pm. Guests on these group tours will have the chance to participate in a VIP experience of the Orchid Greenhouses and Orchid Display House. This tour will also feature areas that are closed to the general public. These tours are offered for $20 per person, and are led in groups of 15 to allow for questions and discussion. Limited reservations are available, and pre registration is required.

Bonnet House also offers guided group tours of the Main House and gardens throughout the entire year. Tours of the Main House and specialized tours of the grounds are available to groups of 15 or more Tuesday-Sunday throughout the year. Guests will have the opportunity to tour the historic home and learn about the significance of the Birch/Bartlett family, and discover the charm and whimsy of this beautiful beachfront estate. Tours are also available to experience our expansive gardens and nature trail. On these tours, docents will describe the various species of native and landscaped plants, and highlight the many ecosystems featured in this 35-acre coastal wilderness.

We hope that you will join us at Bonnet House for one of our many group tour opportunities. The South Florida community has a fascinating history, and we could not be more proud to share the legacy of the Bartlett’s with our guests. To learn more, or book your tour, click here , or call (954) 703-2606 to reserve your space.

History of Fort Lauderdale: Speaker Series In The Gardens

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LectureBonnet House has been a fundamental part of Fort Lauderdale’s unique history since 1920. In the last century, Bonnet House and the Fort Lauderdale community have seen tremendous cultural and environmental change. As we celebrate our 100th anniversary in 2020, we want to provide the South Florida community with opportunities to learn about our fascinating history. Starting in January, Bonnet House will be hosting a monthly lecture series featuring expert historians including Susan Gillis, Cynthia Strachan, Denyse Cunningham and Patrick Scott.

Susan Gillis is a local historian and has written several books on Fort Lauderdale’s history featuring collections of old photographs and postcards, as well as information on Fort Lauderdale during the prohibition era. She will be speaking about the Fort Lauderdale Boom & Bust on Monday, January 13th, 2020.

On February 10th, 2020, historian and entertainer Cynthia Strachan and Bonnet House Curator Denyse Cunningham will give a presentation honoring Black History Month. Cynthia Strachan is a talented vocalist, songwriter, actress and author. She currently owns and maintains the first Broward County Designated Historical Site, her family home of Bowles-Strachan House, and she even operates the associated museum on site. Her lecture with our curator will highlight 100 years of Black History in Fort Lauderdale, and will surely be fascinating for all in attendance.

Our lecture series continues on March 9th, 2020 with local historian Patrick Scott as he describes ‘A Walk Through Fort Lauderdale.’ Patrick Scott was born and raised right here in Fort Lauderdale, and his Cuban grandmother moved to the community as a newlywed in 1927. He is now a lawyer, and has studied, written and lectured on local history history for nearly 30 years. His specific specialty covers early settlements in the South Florida region.

Each lecture is free for members and $5 for nonmembers and will last from 10:00am-11:30am. We hope you’ll join us for these unique opportunities to learn more about Fort Lauderdale’s unique history. If you have any questions, or would like to register in advance for any or all of these events, visit our events calendar.

Fort Lauderdale Adult Art Classes In The Gardens

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When Evelyn Bartlett occupied the Bonnet House historic estate, she made it a priority to ensure that her home was always filled with beautiful artwork and decorative elements. She saw the importance of celebrating local and international artists, and featuring their work in her home for her many guests to enjoy. Today, we continue to celebrate Evelyn’s legacy by featuring a variety of artwork throughout the museum and hosting artistic workshops for all skill levels. To kick off 2020, Bonnet House will be hosting calligraphy, watercolor, acrylic and basket weaving classes for all skill levels.

We will be starting our beginner level calligraphy workshops on January 7th. They will continue weekly on Tuesdays through February 4th from 9:30-11:30am. These courses are meant to show how the art of calligraphy, or “beautiful writing,” can be learned and enjoyed by almost anyone. For those who are a bit more advanced in skill, our intermediate calligraphy classes will begin on February 11th, and continue on Tuesdays through March 10th from 9:30-11:30am.

These hands-on learning opportunities will teach participants about the history of pen lettering, and the importance of the hand-copying of great works of antiquity, including the Bible. Our watercolor workshops will begin on Wednesday, January 8th and will be taught weekly by fine artist and watercolorist Karen Eskesen in the historic Bonnet House gardens. These sessions will be held each Wednesday from January 8th – February 12th, 2020 from 9:30am-12:30pm. Each class will include lessons about traditional techniques of realism in watercolor, as well as line drawing. If the weather permits, each class will also include time to paint in our beautiful gardens at our art tables located in shaded areas.

On January 9th, 2020 we will begin hosting our acrylic workshops with Jane Riles. These classes will explore a variety of methods to achieve personal expression with acrylic painting, and are great for students of any skill level. Each class will include time to paint in our beautiful gardens, and will teach the basic principles of acrylic painting. Classes are held weekly on Thursdays from January 9th through February 13th.

Bonnet House is also proud to announce that we will be hosting two basket weaving classes in 2020. The first will occur on Wednesday, January 29th from 10:00am-2:00pm, and the second will take place on Saturday, March 7th from 10:00am-2:00pm. These classes will give guests the opportunity to create an artistic basket from locally-found, natural materials. These days will include an introduction to basketry as well as a walk throughout the property to identify the materials used.

We hope to see you at one or several of our workshops next year! We couldn’t be more excited to offer these exciting learning opportunities for our guests. For more information on any or all of these events, visit our class list.

Whimsical Wonderland: A Holiday Family Event

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The holiday season is upon us once again, and here at Bonnet House, we couldn’t be more excited to kick the festivities into gear! This year, we will be hosting our annual Whimsical Wonderland event to spread holiday cheer throughout the Fort Lauderdale community. From Christmas caroling, to face painting, to a Santa Fire Truck, Bonnet House offers many unique opportunities to enjoy the holidays with the whole family in our Whimsical Wonderland on December 8th, 2019.

Our Whimsical Wonderland is a part of our annual Holiday Magic series. The series begins on Saturday, December 7th with evening tours each night throughout the week. But of all the holiday events taking place at Bonnet House this season, our Whimsical Wonderland is always among the most fun! The evening is full of entertainment and interactive activities that the whole family can enjoy. We have created a variety of holiday-themed events and activities throughout the evening that will be sure to appeal to boys and girls of all age ranges, as well as their adult families.

The evening will begin on Sunday, December 8th at 5:30pm with Santa Claus himself arriving with his elves on his very own Fire Truck to meet the kids and take note of what they would like for Christmas this year. Throughout the evening, kids will be able to participate in arts and crafts, get their faces painted, and enjoy story time with fun, holiday themes. As the evening continues, live holiday music from the Broward Center Spotlights and opportunities to take holiday family portraits.  Bonnet House’s Whimsical Wonderland is the perfect opportunity for the whole family to experience all that our estate has to offer.

To attend Bonnet House’s Whimsical Wonderland evening, general admission for adults costs $20 per person. But if you’d like to add some extra cheer to your admission (includes two drink tickets), admission will be $30 per person. Children between the ages of 6-12 are only $5, and kids under 6 are free of charge!

We hope to see you and your family at Bonnet House for our Whimsical Wonderland, or at one of our other Holiday Magic events. For more information, to purchase tickets, or register for the event, click here, or give us a call at (954) 563-5393.

Live Holiday Music Happenings In Fort Lauderdale

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With December right around the corner, the holidays are fast approaching. Here at Bonnet House, the holiday season means that beautiful music can be heard frequently throughout our estate. This year, during our Holiday Magic series in December, Bonnet House will be hosting a variety of musical talents that will be sure to entertain and spread holiday cheer! Join us to see the house and grounds lit up to delight, and enjoy listening to musical groups including the Pride Jazz Ensemble, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, and the Yuletide Carolers at Bonnet House December 7th – 13th, 2019.

Our Holiday Magic event series kicks off on Saturday, December 7th, 2019 with evening tours from 5:30-8:30pm. To get Holiday Magic started, the Pride Jazz Ensemble will perform a selection of Christmas and other holiday music from 6:30-7:10pm and again from 7:30-8:10pm. On Sunday, December 8th, the Broward Center Spotlights will perform at our Whimsical Wonderland family event. Aside from the live music at Whimsical Wonderland, this evening will also consist of arts and craft opportunities, story-telling, and even a visit from Santa Claus on a fire truck!

As the week continues, the Dillard Jazz Trio will perform at Bonnet House on Wednesday, December 11th from 6:30-7:30pm. The Yuletide Carolers will follow on Thursday, December 12th, and will sing a variety of classic Christmas carols from 6:30-7:30pm. Finally, to close out our Holiday Magic series, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida will perform on Friday, December 13th from 6:30-7:00pm and again from 7:45-8:15pm.

In addition to fun, live holiday music, each evening will include a wine bar, as well as plenty of opportunities to tour our beautiful estate and grounds and enjoy samples of Old Fashioned. General admission to Bonnet House during our Holiday Magic event series is $20, but if you’d like to add some holiday cheer (includes two drink tickets), admission is $30. For kids between the ages of 6-12, admission is $5, and children under 6 are free of charge.

This holiday season, we hope to see you and your family and friends as we celebrate the joy of the season with a variety of musical performances. For more information, to purchase tickets, or register for the event, click here, or give us a call at (954) 563-5393.

Holiday Magic

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Fort Lauderdale’s Charming and Whimsical Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
Kicks Off its 100th Anniversary Celebration with Dec. 6 Holiday Magic Soirée

The enchantment of the holidays is bringing many celebrations to Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, including the kick-off of the storied home and estate’s 100th anniversary. The Friday, Dec. 6 Holiday Magic Soirée, the official 100th anniversary kick-off event, will be followed by a special Holiday Magic Week of events to continue the celebration.

The Dec. 6 Holiday Magic Soiree, a fully catered affair by A Alexander Event Catering, will kick off the centennial celebration in style with live entertainment by electric violinist Jared Burnett and electric harpist Deanna Defrancesco. A full bar, holiday music and plenty of festive décor will welcome guests. Designer-decorated trees, wreaths and centerpieces will adorn Bonnet House during the event, and will be on sale throughout the week.

The Holiday Magic Soirée will take place from 6:30–9:30 p.m. A VIP reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and include an early viewing of the trees, wreaths and centerpieces displayed throughout the house, along with a fully catered champagne reception in the citrus courtyard, and 100th anniversary commemorative holiday ornament. The cost per person for the Soirée is $75; the cost for the Soirée and VIP Reception is $100 per person. The 2018 event hosted a sellout crowd of 500 people. For sponsorship information, email [email protected]

On Dec. 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13, 2019 from 5:30–8:30 p.m., the Holiday Magic Evening Experience will open Bonnet House for self-guided tours with something exciting every night from Santa and his elves, to Christmas story telling, to strolling carolers and much more. In honor of its 100th Anniversary, during each evening tour, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens will be offering holiday cheer, including general admission to the house ($20 per person) and admission with cheers (including two drink tickets) for $30 per person. $5 for kids 6–12 and free for kids under 6.

The Holiday Magic Evening Experience performance schedule is:

  • Pride Jazz Ensemble ― Saturday, Dec. 7; performance times: 6:30–7:10 p.m. & 7:30–8:10 p.m.
  • Whimsical Wonderland ― An Evening for Families: Broward Center Spotlights ― Sunday, Dec. 8,
    5:30–8:30 p.m. Includes Santa arriving on a fire truck, face painting, stocking making, punch and cookies.
  • Dillard Jazz Trio ― Wednesday, Dec. 11; performance time: 6:30–7:30 p.m.
  • Yuletide Carolers ― Thursday, Dec. 12; performance time: 6:30–7:30 p.m.
  • Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida ― Friday, Dec. 13; performance times: 6:30–7 p.m. & 7:45-8:15 p.m.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (954) 703-2614 or visit http://www.bonnethouse.org/calendar/.

Sponsored by: A Alexander Event Catering, Josh Cellars, Redemption Whiskey, Friends of Bonnet House at Corinthian Condominium, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and John Knox Village.


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Facebook Fundraising

You can also support Bonnet House by setting up a personal fundraising page on Facebook. With so many people using Facebook, the fundraiser page is a great way to spread the word about Bonnet House to those who may not be familiar with Bonnet House. This new Facebook feature is easy to set up and use.

How to set it up

Note: You will need to have a Facebook account and will need to log in before you get started.

From the Facebook app or desktop site, select Create a Fundraiser and fill out the appropriate information in the on-screen form. If you’re using the desktop site, you can find the Create a Fundraiser link on the left side margin near the bottom of the page. If you’re using the Facebook app, tap the More icon on the bottom right, and then tap See More, which is located in the section that contains Friends, Events, and Groups—fundraising will be among the options you can choose.

Here’s the information you’ll be asked to include on your fundraiser page (refer to the image for a visual aid):

Orchids: A Complete Guide

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If you’ve ever visited Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, you may have noticed the vast array of orchids on display in our Orchid House and throughout the main estate. We choose to feature such an abundance of orchids throughout the year because Evelyn Bartlett, one of the original owners of the Bonnet House estate, was a passionate collector of the tropical plants. To preserve the history of the estate and it’s original owners, we provide enriching experiences that connect the Fort Lauderdale community to the Bartletts’ legacy. Part of this involves not only displaying unique orchid varieties throughout the estate, but teaching the public about orchid care and appreciation.

Orchids come in a wide variety and most require a specific care routine. To help those interested in growing orchids, or improving the care of their existing plants, Bonnet House offers Orchid Care classes in our Island Theater. These orchid cultivation classes, taught in a three-part series starting January 25th, 2020, are taught by our orchid curator, Jose Exposito, and his knowledgeable team of orchid care experts. These classes typically cover information like the basics of orchid care, orchid repotting and mounting techniques, as well as methods for diagnosing various pests and diseases. Each class is followed by an official guided “Orchid Tour” featuring our Orchid Display House and Orchid Greenhouse. To register for our orchid classes or learn more, click here.

If it’s the aesthetics of orchids that interest you more than care and cultivation, consider taking our two-day orchid painting watercolor workshop! These classes will be hosted by fine artist and watercolorist Karen Eskesen in the historic Bonnet House gardens on February 28th & 29th, 2020. By attending this workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to learn how to capture the unique beauty of Orchids using various watercolor techniques. To register for these classes, or to learn more about this opportunity, click here.

In addition to educational and artistic classes, Bonnet House is also proud to host our annual Orchid & Garden Festival every spring! This festival is sure to please not just orchid enthusiasts, but plant lovers of all kinds. Guests will be given the opportunity to vividly experience and purchase beautiful orchids of all shapes, sizes, and colors. In addition to orchids, guests will also be able to view and purchase other varieties of tropical plants, herbs, and fruit trees sold by local and international vendors. The festival also includes various lecturers and musical guests to keep everyone entertained throughout both days. To learn more about what to expect at our next Orchid & Garden Festival, click here.

To preserve the important legacy of the Bartletts, we have prioritized educating the public about
native plant species, including Orchids. If you’re interested in learning more about orchid
painting or cultivation, please consider attending at least one of our excellent orchid-centric

The Holiday Magic Comes To Bonnet House: Christmas Events In Fort Lauderdale

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It’s that time of year again! After October ends, it’s time to start focusing on the festivities of the
holiday season. Here at Bonnet House, we are already preparing to celebrate the holiday
season in grand fashion. But it’s not just the holidays that are worth celebrating this year.
Starting in December, Bonnet House Museum & Gardens will begin celebrating our 100th
anniversary! Our official kickoff will commence with our Holiday Magic event series December
6-13, 2019 and will continue with various events throughout 2020.

Beginning on December 6th, 2019, Bonnet House will be hosting our third annual fundraising
event that begins with a fully catered Soiree and exclusive VIP reception, followed by a full week
of festivities that will be fun for the whole family. The festivities will kick off on December 6th with
a classy, holiday Soiree on the veranda. This fantastic event will be catered by Alexander Event
Catering and will feature live entertainment as well as a full bar. Guests will have the opportunity
to see Bonnet House sparkle like never before while celebrating the holiday season and Bonnet
House’s 100-year legacy. This year, we are offering tickets to our Holiday Soiree (6:30pm –
9:30pm) for $75 per person, and our VIP Reception (5:30pm – 9:30pm) for $100 per person
(includes admission to the Holiday Soiree as well). This event typically sells out, so be sure to
buy your tickets early!

As part of the Holiday Magic Christmas festivities, Bonnet House will also be open for
self-guided evening tours on December 7th, 8th, and 11th-13th from 5:30pm – 8:30pm. A team
of talented designers will decorate trees, wreaths and centerpieces that will adorn the estate
and be on sale throughout the week. We will have something exciting each night for adults and
kids alike, from Santa and his elves, to strolling carolers to Christmas storytelling and even a
Whimsical Wonderland evening. In honor of our 100th Anniversary, we will be offering holiday
cheer during each evening tour which will include general admission to the house and two drink
tickets. Performers include the Pride Jazz Ensemble , on Saturday, December 7th, the Broward
Center Spotlights on Sunday, December 8th, the Dillard Jazz Trio on Wednesday, December
11th, the Yuletide Carolers on Thursday, December 12th, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of South
Florida on Friday December 13th. Last year, this celebration was a tremendous success with a
sellout crowd of 500 people. To learn more about the Holiday Magic evening experiences, and
to purchase tickets, click here.

Bonnet House Museum & Gardens may be located in sunny Fort Lauderdale, but our estate is
never more spectacular than it is during the Christmas season. This is why we invite you to
celebrate the holidays and our 100th anniversary with us starting on December 6th with our
Opening Reception & Soiree and continuing with our Holiday Magic evening festivities. To learn
more, or purchase tickets for either event, visit our Holiday Magic events page.

Bonnet House Garden: A Trove Of Rare & Unique Trees

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For decades, the Bonnet House estate has been well-known for its historical significance to the South Florida community. But part of what makes Bonnet House so special is the natural environment in which it was built. The Bonnet House grounds encompass one of the last examples in South Florida of a native barrier island habitat. Five distinct ecosystems can be found on the property 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. Because of our unique location and expansive grounds, Bonnet House is home to a variety of rare trees that you won’t easily find in the rest of the United States.

The Jabuticaba Tree, for example, is native to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, and Bolivia. Jabuticaba Trees are able to flourish here at Bonnet House because of their adaptability. These trees prefer moist, rich, slightly acidic soil, but they can also grow satisfactorily on alkaline beach-sand type soils as long as they are tended and irrigated. These trees flower frequently and produce a tasty thick-skinned berry year-round. Rangpur Lime Trees can also be found on our estate. These trees originated in India, but were brought to Florida in the late 19th century, and can now be grown throughout the world. They also bear an edible fruit that looks and tastes like a hybrid between a mandarin orange and citron. Avocado and Mango trees are also common throughout the Bonnet House estate.

Avocado trees are native to South Central Mexico but thrive in South Florida because of the humid, warm environment, and well-aerated soil. Mango trees on the other hand, are native to India but they also require a warm, humid climate in order to survive. For this reason, in the United States, these trees are only able to grow in Southern Florida and California.

The Bonnet House gardens also include Sapodilla trees. These are a rare find in North America, as they are only native to southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. They can only survive in warm, tropical environments and will easily die if the temperature drops below freezing. South Florida’s warm climate makes it the perfect place for these trees to flourish. The Ear Tree is also native to Central America and can be found at the Bonnet House estate. These trees are a species of flowering tree in the pea family and are known for their expansive, spherical crown and ear-lobe shaped seed pods.

The Bonnet House estate is home to another rare tree that is native to Africa, Arabia, and Australia. These trees are known as Baobabs, and are commonly located in seasonally arid environments and shed their leaves during the dry season. They can survive harsh drought conditions by storing large quantities of water in their trunk (up to 32,000 gallons) for long periods of time. Although all of these trees are native to other countries, each can be found right here in South Florida. At Bonnet House, part of our mission involves educating the public about the Bartlett’s environmental legacy, and encouraging its preservation. You can see these rare trees, and so many more exciting species of plants and animals at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.

Plan your next visit today!