Discover The 5 Ecosystems of the Bonnet House Estate

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In addition to their historic significance, you may be surprised to know that 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.

The Primary Dune is incredibly important to Bonnet House, as our estate exists on a Barrier Island. Primary dunes are very important to barrier islands because they offer protection against flood tides and storm surges. These natural barriers are formed and maintained by the plant life that lives on them. Living conditions on primary dunes are extremely harsh, with strong winds, salt spray, low moisture retainment, shifting sand, and hot sun. For this reason, the plants and animal species that inhabit these dunes tend to be similar to those found in desert regions.

In many dune systems, like ours at Bonnet House, Secondary Dunes can also be observed past the primary dunes. At Bonnet House, this is where the main estate is located. These dunes form when severe storms breach the primary dunes and deposit sand further inland. Due to their relative stability over time, and because they are protected by primary dunes, secondary dunes.

The grounds of Bonnet House are also home to a freshwater slough, a deep marshy river that remains flooded almost year-round. Sloughs are particularly important to South Florida’s ecosystem because they deliver freshwater to bays and estuaries. Because water flow through a slough tends to be slower than most rivers and streams, water is often subject to chemical changes. These changes can actually involve the removal of pollutants and excess nutrients, and are necessary to prevent degradation of any receiving estuaries.

Additionally, The Bonnet House gardens contain beautiful Mangrove Wetlands . Mangroves are thick, dense shrubs and trees that have adapted to life in brackish water, including along tidal rivers and streams, and low energy coastal wetlands. Red, black and white mangroves are native to South Florida, and are considered excellent contributors to coastal fisheries due to their high productivity and nursery functions. Mangroves are built to withstand the harsh growing conditions and subtropical climate of South Florida, and are considered essential to life in the Everglades because they stabilize the coast line and reduce erosion from storm surges.

Lastly (but certainly not least), the Bonnet House grounds feature a beautiful Maritime Forest. Maritime forests are coastal estuaries found on higher ground than dune areas, and within range of oceanic salt spray. They support a great diversity of plant and animal species that can withstand strong winds, periodic flooding, and salt spray. A variety of mammals, and reptiles often make homes in maritime forests, and thousands of birds migrate to these locations each year.

If you’re interested in experiencing the great natural beauty of South Florida all in one place, be sure to visit Bonnet House on your next visit to Fort Lauderdale! If you have any questions, or would like to plan your next trip, contact us!

Celebrate Mother’s Day With Bonnet House Museum & Gardens!

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At Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, we value all the wonderful Moms who make our work possible. From the mothers bringing their children and families to visit the Estate, to our volunteer moms spending time away from their family to enhance the quality of Bonnet House, we’d like to extend a warm thank you to every Mom who has contributed to the success of Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.

Photo by Mary D’Elia

This Mother’s Day, give Mom the ultimate gift of art and culture by celebrating at Bonnet House free of charge! Sunday, May 13th from 9am – 4pm , Mom’s will be admitted free with one full paid adult admission. Step back in time with Mom and experience life as it was in the 20’s and 30’s as you tour the historic estate filled with a delightful collection of art and personal treasures from the Bartlett family. You also won’t want to miss out on our gorgeous natural trails filled with native plants, trees and even an occasional monkey or swan.

If you still need to pick up a fantastic gift Mom will be sure to love, don’t forget to visit our popular Museum Shop, for elegant jewelry, classy handbags, scarves, and so much more! If you have any questions about the Bonnet House Estate, or our Mother’s Day discounts, please contact Monica Estevez at (954) 703-2614 or [email protected] .

Don’t Miss Our Ojus Tiles!

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When most guests think of Bonnet House, they will likely imagine pristine gardens, luxurious spaces, and fine artwork from across the globe. But one of the most exquisite aspects of Bonnet House often goes overlooked: the floors. At Bonnet House, each room has a different flooring concept. To site a few examples, some rooms, like The Studio, Dining Room and Bamboo Bar contain terrazzo with bronze expansion joints, and the flooring in The Main Orchid Display House is made of roughly finished coral. From Helen’s Music Room to Evelyn’s Bedroom, each room has unique flooring features that are worth remembering!

The most unique floors in all of Bonnet House Estate, however, are the Ojus [Oi-yo] tiles found in the Drawing Room and the Shell Museum. The tiles were named after the Ojus Rock Company quarry that was opened after the turn of the last century. The techniques used to make the tiles was imported from the Mediterranean long before Florida became a state. Each tile can be unique in size, shape and color, as you may notice in the Shell Museum. Unlike the thin walled, but highly decorative glazed tiles, Ojus tiles are thick and heavy, and are sun-dried rather than kiln-dried, making it easier to produce needed quantities.

These tiles are often used for exterior application or high traffic areas as these thick tiles do not require a solid foundation, but can be placed on level ground, are weather tolerant, have more “grip” than glazed tiles, seldom move, can sustain heavy loads without breaking, and rarely chip. Interestingly, after centuries of island colonization, properties that do not have clear deeds or land titles use the hurricane proof tiles to re-establish property lines when there are disputes or a disaster devastates a property.

There are two methods to manufacture Ojus tiles. Initially both use a mold that is approximately three inches deep and filled with concrete. One technique uses pure white sand and calcium
carbonate in its concrete mix. Then, colored ink is immediately swirled into the surface before being sun dried. The second technique allows the initial pour to use regular mix sand. After drying, a slurry of pure white sand and calcium carbonate is poured as a top coat, and the ink is swirled into the surface. These tiles are still made by island artisans for home and commercial application.
Frederic and Hugh Taylor Birch knew what they were doing when they selected the heavier and thicker Ojus tiles for the Estate. They chose a flooring that would take a beating and last for more than a lifetime!

Next time you visit Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, don’t forget to look down and take in the beauty of our unique floors and tiles! If you have any questions about visiting Bonnet House,  please contact us, and we’ll be happy to assist.

Leave a Legacy and Support Bonnet House in Perpetuity

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With a Chari­table Gift An­nuity (CGA), you can make a long-lasting impact for the preservation of Bonnet House-and here’s what you get in return for your gift:

  • Receive stable, fixed payments for the rest of your life, regardless of fluctuations in the market
  • Pay less tax on those payments than regular income
  • Get a charitable deduction for the current market value of your gift and face no liability for the capital gains when you fund your gift with appreciated stock
  • Receive payments immediately or defer them to a future date when you may need additional income.

The minimum age is 60 and the minimum gift is $10,000.

Some payout rates are as follows:

Age 70 – 5.1% annually
Age 75 – 5.8% annually
Age 80 – 6.8% annually
Age 85 – 7.8 % annually

No wonder the Charitable Gift Annuity is such a pop­ular gift. It gives long-term support for your loved ones, Bonnet House, and you!

Contact Darla to get individualized information detailing what your annuity payments and interest rates would be: Darla Worley Livesay, Director of Development, 954-653-1557 or [email protected]

South Florida Adventure Pass

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Purchase a pass at Bonnet House and visit five South Florida Cultural Treasures–Bonnet House, Flamingo Gardens, Young at Art, Extreme Action Park & Sawgrass Recreation Park.  Ticket prices are as follows: Adults – $45, Children (3-12) – $35, Member prices: Adults – $30, Children (3-12) – $20. Tickets available at the Museum Gift Shop beginning Tuesday, May 15.  Program runs May 15 – September 30, 2018.

Corinthian Condominium Residents Support Bonnet House

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In a show of support for preserving Bonnet House, residents of the nearby Corinthian Condominium banded together to make a substantial gift.  Recently, Corinthian Board President Theo Folz delivered Bonnet House a contribution of $51,010.  The gift will be used for a variety of capital improvement projects such as painting the Citrus Courtyard and Welcome Center, repairing termite damaged siding, vegetation trimming along the beach path, and improving the museum gift shop with a new roof and new tile flooring.

While all these projects will improve the visitor experience, some of them are nonetheless difficult to raise funds for as they don’t involve preservation of historic buildings.  Bonnet House is incredibly grateful to our neighbors at the Corinthian for their interest in seeing that the estate is well-cared for and always looks its best.  The sizeable gift was made possible by an anonymous Corinthian resident who challenged neighbors to match a contribution of $25,000.  Building residents exceeded that goal.

One Happy Family: Volunteering At Bonnet House

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At Bonnet House, our talented team of staff and volunteers make up a tight-knit family with common passions for history, art, nature, and more. We care deeply about the estate, and believe that it’s preservation benefits not only the individuals who visit, but the entire Fort Lauderdale community. It is through our volunteers and their efforts that we are able to maintain the integrity and beauty of this unique historical estate, and ensure a pleasant and enjoyable experience for each guest.

Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from biochemistry to banking, and law to photography. Many have been with us for over two decades, and are still enjoying their time here! Former Bonnet House CEO, Karen Beard, believes that “Bonnet House is a special place and it attracts some of the most dedicated and professional people I have ever known.” Stephen Draft has certainly left his mark at Bonnet House as both Volunteer and Curator. After moving to the Fort Lauderdale area, Stephen began his time with Bonnet House as a volunteer working with the Grounds Manager, and later doing tram tours. But as his passion for Bonnet House and his experience here grew, he was offered employment as our Curator.

“The thrill at seeing some neglected part of the property transformed never stopped happening for me…I was curator for 6 years before retiring and becoming a volunteer again,” Stephen recalls.

At Bonnet House, we value each and every one of our volunteers. We need and desire their continued help, enthusiasm and support of our estate. Without them, the Bonnet House experience would simply not be the same. Whether it’s everyday operations, special evening events, or post-hurricane cleanup,  House couldn’t operate as it does without our team of dedicated volunteers.

Volunteers have a variety of different opportunities to serve at Bonnet House. Our available volunteer positions include:

● Lead Guide
● Education Volunteer
● Back-Up Guide
● Nature Trail Interpreters
● Bridge Greeter
● Courtyard Coordinator
● Museum Shop Assistant
● Collections Volunteer
● Research Volunteer
● Data Input
● Handyman Volunteer
● Garden Volunteer

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.

2017-2018 Season Recap: What You May Have Missed

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This last season was a tremendous success for Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. We proudly hosted a highly-acclaimed art exhibition, in addition to a variety of classes, workshops, lectures, and concerts. At Bonnet House, we feel that it is our mission to offer enjoyable and enriching cultural experiences that connect today’s community to the Bartletts’ architectural, artistic, and environmental legacy.

Classes, Workshops & Lectures:
To enhance the mission of Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, we offer a variety of classes, workshops and lectures for anyone interested and willing to grow in their passions for art and nature.

From October 2017-April 2018, we hosted popular Birding Classes that focused on the identification of rare birds, as well as various approaches to understanding their behavior, habitat, and so much more. Each class included an informative presentation, numerous handouts, and a walk around our beautiful garden to search for rare and beautiful birds.

In February 2018, we also hosted three Orchid Classes in our Island Theater. Each class covered a different aspect of understanding and caring for different types of orchids. From repotting to diagnosing pests and diseases, these classes were a hit for all in attendance!

This fall, we also offered a variety of workshops in varying session topics and lengths. Some of our popular workshops included calligraphy, watercolor, acrylic, orchid painting, and even basket-weaving. We were fortunate enough to have found experienced artists to teach each of the workshops, ensuring our participants received a thorough, well-rounded experience.

On select Mondays between January and April 2018, we hosted 4 lectures discussing topics specifically chosen to help connect people living in today’s world to the Bartletts’ legacy. All lectures are free to members, and just $5.00 for non-members. These popular lecture topics included:

● Digging Into The Past: Tequesta at Bonnet House
● Abiaka (Sam Jones) in Context
● Trains & Travel: The Bartletts & The 20th Century Limited
● Planting for Life: How to Make Your Backyard Your Bird Feeder

Concerts Under The Stars:
At Bonnet House, we believe that there is no better way to experience the beauty and elegance of the Bonnet House estate than with live music and fantastic company. That’s why we make it a priority to host a variety of indoor and outdoor concerts each year. This fall, we hosted monthly “Concerts Under The Stars,”so that guests could experience musical performances on the beautiful Bonnet House Veranda, while enjoying wine, coffee, and sweet hors d’oeuvres. This series was a huge hit for all who came to celebrate and enjoy all that Bonnet House has to offer.

Holiday Magic Evening Experience:
Bonnet House never shines brighter than during the Holiday Season! Between 5:30 and 8:30 PM on December 1st-8th, 2017, all of the trees and wreaths throughout the house were lit and designed to delight as guests enjoyed a self-guided tour of the house during this rare nighttime opportunity. With something exciting every night (like a visit from Santa and his Elves, Christmas storytelling, strolling carolers, and more), our Holiday Magic Evening Experience surpassed even the highest expectations!

Making New Impressions: A Juried Art Exhibit:
As of March 8th, 2018, Bonnet House has been hosting our Annual Juried Art Competition and Sale. All of the art work selected for the competition is for sale and 50% of the proceeds help support the preservation of Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. The Impressions exhibit will be on display in the Carl Weinhardt Gallery at Bonnet House during regular tour hours. If you haven’t gotten the chance to see this popular and vibrant exhibition, don’t worry, it will be staying until April 29th, 2018! Learn more about attending the Competition & Sale, here.

From all of us at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, we’d like to thank each and every individual who attended any of our fantastic activities and events this season. If you may have missed out last year, don’t make the same mistake twice! Check out our upcoming events calendar & purchase tickets to our next event, here:

$25,000 Challenge Grant

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We are so excited to announce this wonderful opportunity for Bonnet House. The Salah Foundation has most generously awarded Bonnet House a $25,000 Challenge Grant to complete our hurricane recovery efforts by refurbishing the fence along A1A and repairing the Boat House.

The contract for the fence is $45,000 and we also learned recently that the boathouse will cost $14,600 to repair.   It has taken quite a bit of time to get to this point post Hurricane Irma, and we have to get these items fixed now more than ever for safety and security reasons!

We are honored that the Salah Foundation has graciously offered this grant to Bonnet House, but we need your help!  The Salah Foundation will match dollar for dollar up to $25,000, thus making the funds go twice as far.  Please help Bonnet House raise its goal and show the Salah Foundation your gratitude by making a donation today.

Click here to donate today. 

Where Culture Meets Couture – Don’t Miss Our Unique Gift Shop

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Bonnet House has long been known for its beautifully tranquil, expansive gardens, as well as its historic art gallery, studio, and museum. But did you know that Bonnet House is also home to a Gift Shop featuring a variety of unique inventory that is sure to please even the notoriously “hard-to-buy-for?”


Our Gift Shop features Charles Albert jewelry, which is showcased only at high-end retailers because of their fine sterling silver pieces. For organic lovers, we present the colorful and eye-catching, Organic Taua Jewelry , that is sure to make a stunning statement with any outfit. Beautiful, high-quality ladies scarves and handbags are available, and make perfect year-round accessories.


Our Gift Shop is proud to also share our space with specialty items from SPI, as well as a wide array of other household and personal items that are sure to compliment your home with elegance and style.

If it’s history that interests you, our Gift Shop has an expansive selection of books capturing the fascinating history and culture of Fort Lauderdale.

For an in-depth history of Bonnet House specifically, we have published a new hardcover book, “Bonnet House: A Legacy of Artistry and Elegance.” This new coffee table-book highlights the historic home and the artistic legacy of Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett. The book traces the history of the property, and explores and depicts the decorative embellishments utilized by the Bartletts to create a truly unique home. Click here to view some sample pages.

For your convenience, tickets for Concerts Under-the-Stars, Impressions, Cruising Down The River, and Orchid Festival, in addition to the many classes and workshops featured at Bonnet House, are sold in our Gift Shop (as well as online, the Welcome Center, and the South Gate).

As you visit, please consider that a great gift for anyone is a Bonnet House membership, as it is the gift that keeps on giving all year long. Memberships to Bonnet House include benefits such as complimentary tours, special discounts, priority at special events, and also help to preserve this wonderful estate. Learn more about becoming a member here.

Whether you’ve been a member for years, or are a first time guest, we thank you for visiting our our beautiful estate, and we hope that you take advantage of all that it offers, including our
unique Gift Shop! If you have any questions about our Gift Shop contact Dianne Ennis, at [email protected] or call (954) 703-2617.

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