Bok Tower Gardens … Central Florida!


~~March 4, 2014~~

Bok Tower Gardens (also known as Bok Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower) is a botanical garden and bird sanctuary, located north of Lake WalesFloridaUnited States.

It consists of a 250-acre (100 ha) garden, the 205-foot (62 m) tall Singing Tower with its carillon bells, Pine Ridge Trail, Pinewood Estate, and a visitor center. The tower is built upon Iron Mountain, one of the highest points of peninsular Florida, estimated to be 295 feet (90 m) above sea level

It is a National Historic Landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bok Tower Gardens is open daily and an admission fee is charged.

Bok Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower
Bok Tower, March 2008
Location 1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake WalesFlorida USA
Coordinates 27°56′07.2″N 81°34′39″WCoordinates27°56′07.2″N 81°34′39″W
Built 1927-1929 by Mary Louise Curtis and Edward W. Bok
Architect Milton B. Medary (tower)
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.(gardens)
Architectural style Gothic Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 72000350
Significant dates
Added to NRHP August 21, 1972
Designated NHL April 19, 199

~~History~~

The gardens began in 1921 when a Dutch immigrant, Edward W. Bok, editor of the popular women’s magazine Ladies Home Journal and his wife, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, who would found the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1924, were spending the winter beside Florida‘s Lake Wales Ridge and decided to create a bird sanctuary on its highest hill (298 feet above sea level, 91 meters).

Bok commissioned noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to transform what then was an arid sand hill into “a spot of beauty second to none in the country”. The first year was spent digging trenches and laying pipes for irrigation, after which soil was brought to the site by thousands of truck loads and plantings began. The Olmsted plan included the planting of 1,000 large live oaks, 10,000 azaleas, 100 sabal palms, 300 magnolias, and 500 gordonias, as well as hundreds of fruit shrubs including blueberry and holly.

Attempts were made to introduce flamingos to the sanctuary several times, which is why early renderings of the tower show flamingos at the reflection pool rather than swans. These early efforts were unsuccessful, however, as the flamingos were not native to central Florida and could not survive the winters that were cooler than those of southern Florida where they may be found.

Under construction for over five years, Bok Tower Gardens was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge on February 1, 1929. Edward Bok died on January 9, 1930 and was interred at the base of the tower.

~~Gardens~~

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. designed the meandering gardens of Bok Tower Gardens to feature acres of ferns, palms, oaks, pines, and wetland plants. The plantings also include camellias, tree ferns, creeping fig, yaupon and dahoon holly,Asiatic jasminejusticia, crinum and spider lilymonsterawax myrtle, date and sabal palmpapyrusphilodendron, blue plumbago, and horsetail rush (Juncaceae).

The site is a refuge for more than a hundred bird species. Wild turkey and groups of sandhill cranes are also often seen wandering the grounds.

Bok Tower Gardens 2011

Uploaded on Mar 8, 2011

New footage of the incredible Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida during the spring bloom.

~~Singing Tower~~

~~The ornate brass door leading into Bok Tower and details of its stonework~~

The Singing Tower is the centerpiece of the gardens.

The tower was built at the highest elevation of the site, south of a reflection pool that allows the water to reflect its full image. A 60-bell carillon (cast by Taylor) set within the 205-foot (62 m) tall, Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower that was designed by architect Milton B. Medary.

Construction on the tower began in 1927 and was completed for the dedication of the gardens in 1929, when it was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge. The tower is 51 feet (16 m) square at its base, changing form at 150 feet (46 m) high to an octagon with 37 feet (11 m) sides that include sculptures designed by Lee Lawrie.

The tower is surrounded by a 15-foot (4.6 m) moat that serves as a Koi pond. It is built of pink Etowah marble and gray Creole marble, mined in Tate, Georgia, and Florida native coquina stone, from Daytona Beach, Florida.

Although the tower’s interior is not open to the public, it contains the Anton Brees Carillon Library, said to be the largest carillon library in the world. It also is home to the Chao Research Center Archives which keeps various institutional records related to Bok Tower. Every year,however, graduating seniors from Lake Wales High School, a local high school located down the street from the tower, have the very rare opportunity to see the inside of the tower.

Inside the bell chamber is a playing room that houses a clavier, or keyboard, that is used for playing the carillon bells. Recitals are given daily from the 60-bell carillon set.

~~Education~~

Bok Tower Gardens provides an authentic and engaging educational program directed towards many different types of learners. The mission of the Bok Tower Gardens Education Department is, “to connect and engage learners of all ages in quality programming that creates appreciation, knowledge and awareness of the environment, art, history and culture.”

Bok Tower Gardens Education Department works diligently to deliver five main educational values that include: advocacy of relevant education, accessibility for all learners, academic excellence, authentic learning experiences, and collaborative partnerships.

~~Pinewood Estate~~

All of the Education Department’s programs and field trips align with the Florida Sunshine State Standards and Polk County Curriculum Maps. The lessons presented in the Education Department’s curriculum guide cover academic areas such as science, nature, visual & performance arts, culture and history.

The curriculum guide was created to help students explore and discover Bok Tower Gardens before, during and after their trip. Students are able to learn detailed information about the gardens, the singing tower, Pinewood Estate and the Visitor Center that is contained within the curriculum guide.

Official Website: http://boktowergardens.org/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/boktowergardens

~~Bok Singing Tower and Gardens – Lake Wales, FL~~

Published on Jun 19, 2013

There are many great attractions in Central Florida.

But if you want to spend some time in a paradise, in the ‘American Taj Mahal‘, head south on US 27 off I-4 W toward Sebring until you come to Lake Wales then follow the signs to Bok Singing Tower and Gardens.

A National Historic Site, Bok Tower is one of the most peaceful and beautiful spots in the nation.

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We ALL are connected through NATURE!! 

We ALL are ONE!! 

5 thoughts on “Bok Tower Gardens … Central Florida!

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