Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is one of Fort Lauderdale’s hidden gems. In addition to the architectural, cultural, and artistic elements of the Bonnet House, the estate is home to magnificent gardens that happen to be one of the last examples of a native barrier island replication habitat within South Florida.


© Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

The earliest activity on the site of the Bonnet House dates back to 2,000 B.C. with the Tequesta people. Further studies have shown that the Bonnet House was most likely one of the first places the Spanish landed in the New World.

Although the Bonnet House is thought to have a dense history, its modern history doesn’t begin until 1919. In 1919, Taylor Birch gave his daughter Helen and her husband Frederic Clay Bartlett the Bonnet House estate as their wedding gift. When Taylor gave the newlyweds this land, it was unoccupied. Under Helen and Frederic’s ownership, the Bonnet House was built. The couple used the Bonnet House as a vacation home where they both could pursue their artistic passions. Unfortunately, Helen passed away from lung cancer in 1925. Throughout the next five years, Frederic rarely visited the House.

Then in 1931, Frederic remarried to a woman named Evelyn Fortune Lilly. Together, Frederic and Evelyn decorated and embellished the Bonnet House into the similar style that it has today. Although Frederic passed away in 1953, Evelyn visited the Bonnet House every winter. Thirty years later, Evelyn donated the estate to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. This donation became known as Florida’s largest charitable gift around that time.

In 1984, the Bonnet House was officially recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2002 it was officially named one of the City of Fort Lauderdale’s historic landmarks.

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© Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Frederic Bartlett was an avid art collector and painter. Bartlett’s renowned and rare art collection with his wife Helen is displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago throughout the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection. After Helen passed away, Frederic continued to collect and create art. This passion was also shared with his third wife, Evelyn. Although Frederic and Evelyn’s work have been featured in a variety of renowned art museums, majority of their work and collections are shown throughout the Carl J. Weinhardt Gallery in the Bonnet House.

For more information about the art and artifacts displayed throughout the Bonnet House, check out the House’s official website.

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© Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

The five ecosystems found in the estate’s gardens are the:

· Atalntic Ocean beach and dune

· Mangrove wetlands

· Fresh water slough

· Maritime forest

· Secondary dune

Another notable element of the Gardens is the Desert Garden, which features a variety of plants that thrive within a dry and humid climate. One of Evelyn Bartlett’s major contribution to the Gardens was her collection of orchids. This collection is recognized as one of the largest and most comprehensive of its kind within the Southeast area of the United States.

In addition to the variety of horticulture within the Gardens, the Gardens are home to many animals including:

· Amazon parrots

· Moluccan cockatiel

· Mute swans

· Costa Rican squirrel monkeys

· Manatees

· Gopher tortoises

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4.Educational Opportunities

Educational Opportunities
© Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Two of the main educational opportunities at the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens are the group tours and school programs. Each of the specialized group tours focus on a different aspect of the estate and require a different minimum amount of guests. The specialized tours available at the Bonnet House are:

· Main House

· Main House & Tram

· Main House and Guided Grounds

· Group Tour

Aside from specialized tours, schools can participate in any of the Bonnet House’s educational programs. Each educational program integrates the Florida Core Standards into fun and educational activities. The school programs include:

· Images and Impressions of the Bonnet House

· Birch Bonnet Barrier Island Beat About

· An Eco Here and An Eco There

· An Old South Florida Portrait

· Time Travel at Bonnet House – A Multicultural Past

· The Last Egret

It’s important to note that each program has a maximum of 60 students per day. Schools must arrange payment on or before the reserved day for their program. For every 10 students, one classroom teacher or chaperone is complimentary. But, additional teachers or chaperones are require to pay the general student fee.

For more information about any of the educational opportunities at the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, head over to the Bonnet House’s official website, or contact or visit them during their standard hours of operation.

Back to: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

900 N Birch Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304, Phone: 954-563-5393

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Best Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

  • History, Photo: Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
  • Museum, Photo: Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
  • Gardens, Photo: Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
  • Educational Opportunities, Photo: Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
  • Cover Photo: Bonnet House Museum & Gardens