Over 100 years ago when South Florida was barely more than a small town, Frederic and Helen Bartlett were gifted the Bonnet House site as a wedding present. Soon after in 1920, the family began construction on the gorgeous Bonnet House estate as their winter retreat where they could each pursue their own artistic passions. After the unfortunate death of Frederic’s wife, Helen, visits to the winter get-a-way became infrequent and sporadic. If it had not been for Frederic’s marriage to Evelyn Fortune Lily in 1931, Bonnet House would not have become the beautiful museum and gardens we know today.
Over the years, Evelyn embellished Bonnet House with the eye-catching decorative elements that delight visitors to this day. Even after Frederic’s death in 1953, Evelyn continued to return to the estate, and maintain its beauty. In 1983, Evelyn gave Bonnet House to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, ensuring that the site would be preserved for the enjoyment and education of future generations.
Now, as Bonnet House approaches its 100th birthday, we are reflecting on the legacy of Bonnet House and the Bartlett family in the Fort Lauderdale community. Since Bonnet House’s nonprofit status was established in 1992, our team has done our very best to preserve this important legacy. Since day one, it has been our mission to share the Bartlett’s love of art and nature through public tours, youth and adult education programs, and cultural events that foster community participation.
Our team at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens honors this legacy through the decades spent preserving and showcasing the Bartletts unique collection of art and personal treasures, while also highlighting the importance of the natural barrier-island ecosystem in Fort Lauderdale. Over the years, we have also been working to teach adults and youths about the fascinating history of South Florida and it’s original settlers through educational tours and programs. But our efforts do not stop there.
In just the last year alone, Bonnet House has hosted many wonderful events and has opened its doors to thousands of guests. From our dazzling Holiday Magic celebration to our successful Orchid Festival, 2019 has gotten off to a phenomenal start. But none of this would have been possible without all of our supporters. Bonnet House is incredibly fortunate to have some of the most outstanding board members, donors, volunteers, and staff. We are forever grateful for their dedication and unwavering commitment to the Bonnet House estate.
With the 100th anniversary of Bonnet House quickly approaching, we are asking for at least 100 friends to donate $100 to help kick-off 100 years! Donate $100 today with this link , or mail in a check to be one of the first to receive a commemorative 100th Anniversary t-shirt, lapel pin and Swarovski crystal pen. Your entire gift is 100% tax deductible, too!
Congratulations! I hope you will continue to delight the people of South Florida.