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Bok Tower Gardens and Pinewood Estate…

Posted by on February 5, 2017

Yesterday would have been a good day for a picnic in central Florida. The skies were clear and a gentle breeze softened the upper 70’s temperature in the afternoon. The problem is that we hadn’t thought about a picnic when we began a drive down Highway 27…we were just “looking around.” But next time we’ll know to pack a lunch and stop for the afternoon at Bok Tower Gardens where after lunch we can get a second look at the Pinewood Estate and listen to the carillon concert at the Singing Tower.

BOK TOWER GARDENS. Established in 1929 when still an arid sandhill, the gardens were subsequently transformed into “a spot of beauty second to none in the country.” The 50-acre garden was designed to be a contemplative and informal woodland setting. Acres of ferns, palms, oaks and pines fashion a backdrop of flowering foliage and colorful azaleas, camellias and magnolias.

Reflection pool with the Bok Singing Tower in the background.


EDWARD W. BOK. The gardens began when Dutch immigrant Edward W. Bok, editor of the popular women’s magazine Ladies Home Journal and his wife were spending the winter at Florida’s Lake Wales Ridge and decided to create a sanctuary on its highest hill. Ditches were dug during the first year of construction and soil was brought to the site by thousands of truck loads. Attempts were made to introduce flamingos to the gardens on several occasions, but they were unsuccessful as the birds were not native to central Florida and they couldn’t survive the cooler winters than in southern Florida, where they thrive. So much for the bird sanctuary part of the gardens! But the garden planting continued and five years later President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the gardens. They’ve subsequently been designated a Natioinal Historic Landmark.

THE SINGING TOWER. The 205-foot marble and coquina Singing Tower is the pinnacle of the gardens with tile mosaics, animal carvings, custom ironwork and stone native to the Southeast. The tower houses a 60 bell carillon, one of the world’s finest, where daily concerts are held.
















PINEWOOD ESTATE. Set on the garden’s grounds, Pinewood Estate is a one-of-a-kind 1932 Mediterranean-style home, and was the winter residence of American industrialist Charles Austin Buck from 1932 until his death in 1945. Buck was a vice president of the Bethlehem Steel Company, then the second-largest steel producer and shipbuilding company in the United States. The twenty room mansion is set in the gardens such that there is a unique garden view from each of the home’s rooms.









THANKS FOR JOINING US. Stay tuned as we continue to explore central Florida. Perhaps a visit to Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center will be our next day trip. See you there.


I’ll continue my story next time.

2 Responses to Bok Tower Gardens and Pinewood Estate…

  1. Randy

    Hard to remember how many interesting things there are to see when you leave the ol’ neighborhood, thanks!

  2. Greg Alford

    So true, Randy. We continue to be amazed at how much there is to discover in this great country of ours! I hope all is well with you.

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