Fort Lauderdale, Florida | History & Nature

History & Nature

Historical gems just steps from Fort Lauderdale’s busy beaches.

Bonnet House Museum

Hidden among the high rise hotels and 24-hour dining spots that stretch along the A1A as it follows Florida’s eastern shore in Fort Lauderdale is 35 acres of lush land surrounding an impressive home that is as rich in history as it is in natural beauty. The Bonnet House Museum is dedicated to historic and environmental reservation, as well as to learning and creative expression.

The home was built by artist Frederic Clay Bartlett in 1920 after the land was given to him by his second wife’s father, naturalist Hugh Taylor Birch. Vibrant hues of yellow and blue make the exterior of the house stand out and yet seem perfectly at harmony with the royal palms and lush gardens that surround the estate. Visitors often hear the calls of the wild squirrel monkeys or one of the tropical birds that live on the property. With a hibiscus garden, stunning orchids that are showcased throughout the year and a variety of distinct ecosystems, this historic site is much more than just a home tour.

However, the guided home tour itself is not to be missed.  Anyone with an interest in history, architecture and particularly art will love this estate, with easel art, murals and faux paintings done by Bartlett displayed throughout the house. Artwork by Bartlett’s third wife, Evelyn, is also on display on the property. It was Evelyn who donated the entire property to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, which maintains the property and ensures its longevity as an historic site.

Special behind-the-scenes tours are offered monthly. Check the calendar for programs like art workshops, birding, orchid care classes, evening music series and programs for children. The house is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Paddle the Mangroves

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Directly across busy Sunrise Boulevard from the Bonnet House is another place to retreat from the endless action of Fort Lauderdale. The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is Birch’s former estate and was a gift from him to the state of Florida with the goal of protecting this piece of subtropical paradise from development.

Between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, this 180-acre park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset year round. Visitors can rent a canoe to paddle in the freshwater lagoon, fish from the seawall or access the beach via the pedestrian tunnel that goes under the A1A. Hike through the nature along the trails, or bike or skate along the paved park road. Relax with a picnic overlooking the channel, or plan a gathering in one of the park’s pavilions.

Wildlife in the park includes herons, wading birds, raccoons, squirrels and rabbits, as well as gopher tortoise and the grey fox. Birch’s original home, an interesting blend of Spanish and Art Deco architecture, serves as the Terramar Visitor Center, where guests can learn more about the park and current programs and events offered.

Tags: , ,

About the Author

About the Author: .

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Comments are closed.

Top