Bonnet House

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Bonnet House
Gate to Bonnet House grounds
Bonnet House is located in Florida
Bonnet House
Bonnet House is located in the US
Bonnet House
Location Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Coordinates 26°8′7″N 80°6′20″W / 26.13528°N 80.10556°W / 26.13528; -80.10556Coordinates: 26°8′7″N 80°6′20″W / 26.13528°N 80.10556°W / 26.13528; -80.10556
NRHP reference # 84000832[1]
Added to NRHP July 5, 1984

The Bonnet House (also known as the Bartlett Estate) is a historic home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States. It is located at 900 Birch Road. On July 5, 1984, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It is named after the Bonnet Lily.[2]


The property was originally acquired in 1895 by Hugh Taylor Birch, a successful Chicago lawyer, and given to his daughter Helen and her husband, artist Frederic Clay Bartlett, as a wedding gift in 1919. Bartlett built a plantation-style home on the property and wintered there with his wife and child from a previous marriage, Frederic Jr, until Helen died in 1925. As a memorial to his late wife Bartlett donated his extensive art collection to the Art Institute of Chicago.[3] Bartlett was a self-taught architect, the main house is based on his interpretation of Caribbean plantation-style architecture.[4] Bartlett then married Evelyn Fortune Lilly, ex-wife of Eli Lilly, and they continued to use the home as a winter residence until his death in 1953 and hers in 1997.[5] She deeded the property in 1983 to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, which maintains the property as a historic house museum called the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.[6] The estate was valued at $35 million, the largest single private donation in state history.[3] In 1988 Jon Nordheimer of The New York Times described it as, "an unrivaled time capsule neatly preserved from an era earlier in the century when the wealthy elite could afford a cozy 35-acre winter hideaway in Florida."[3]


The principal buildings include; the main house, an art studio, a music studio and a guest house.[7] They are all of vernacular architecture, designed by Bartlett.[7] The estate is 35.4 acres (14.3 ha).[7] It includes 100 feet (30 m) of beach.[3] In April 2015, Bonnet House officials completed five years of negotiations with the city of Fort Lauderdale to designate the 700-foot stretch of beachfront property in front of it private so that it can host wedding receptions and other private events there without having to get special permits from the city.[8] There are five different ecosystems within the property; primary and secondary dunes, mangrove wetlands, a fresh water slough and a maritime forest.[9]

Art studio[edit]

The first building completed was the art studio.[7]

Main house[edit]

The ceiling of the drawing room in the main house is of mahogany from a large log that washed ashore in a storm.[3] Throughout a motif of pairs reflecting an interest of Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett.[3]

Music studio[edit]

Guest house[edit]

Modern times[edit]

In 1987 six thousand visitors took the 90 minute tour of the site.[3]

Evelyn Bartlett had a pet monkey and bought 30 to 40 monkeys to live in the trees of the estate.[5][10] When a local bar, LeClub, that featured monkeys closed they fled to the Bonnet House.[10][11] In 2014 at least three of them still lived there.[10]

Bartlett's sister, Maie Bartlett Heard, founded the Heard Museum in Phoenix with her husband Dwight B. Heard.

Since 2003 the Bonnet House has sought to increase revenue by serving as a filming location.[12] It was the finish line for the seventh season of the hit CBS reality show The Amazing Race.[12][13] It also was a filming location for the movie Hoot.[14]

In May 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the building on their list of America's Most Endangered Places.[15][16] The same year the Bonnet House settled a lawsuit against a developer planning an 18-storey hotel nearby. The settlement included almost half a million dollars for landscaping to obscure the view of the new building.[17] The proposed hotel had been controversial, many people both in favor and opposed spoke at public hearings on the subject.[18] Also in 2008 it was featured in the book, Great Houses of Florida.[19]

In 2012 the Bonnet House joined the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District as a cultural partner.[20] In 2017 Patrick Shavloske was named chief executive officer.[21]



  1. ^ National Park Service (9 July 2010). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ Hurlburt, Roger (18 March 1993). "Lilies of art field focus of Bonnet House tribute". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Nordheimer, Jon (31 March 1988). "Winter hideaway, gem from the past". New York Times – via Gale.
  4. ^ "Bonnet House Museum and Gardens". Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b Dobrzynski, Judith H. (3 July 1997). "Evelyn Bartlett, patron of art and ornament, dies at 109". New York Times – via Gale.
  6. ^ Heist, Lauren. "Bonnet House is full of wildlife, whimsy and wonder". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d Zimney, Michael (10 May 1984). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination form: Bonnet House. National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, US Dept of the Interior.
  8. ^ Barszewski, Larry. "Bonnet House beach won't be considered public anymore". Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  9. ^ "Bonnet House Museum and Gardens". The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Streeter, Leslie Gray (27 March 2014). "Step into the past, see the future at the Bonnet House". Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, FL. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  11. ^ Wallman, Brittany (9 May 2001). "Animals find their own space in the city". Knight Ridder / Tribune News Service – via Gale.
  12. ^ a b Renaud, Jean-Paul (12 May 2005). "The Amazing Race finale takes place at Fort Lauderdale house". Sun-Sentinel. Broward County, FL – via Gale.
  13. ^ Sanchez, Yolanda (7 October 2005). "Film brings revenue to south Florida". Sun-Sentinel. Broward County, FL – via Gale.
  14. ^ Costantini, Lisa (May 2006). "Hoot". Backpacker. 34 (4). p. 35 – via Gale.
  15. ^ Abruzzese, Sarah (20 May 2008). "Landmark hotel among sites seen as in peril". New York Times – via Gale.
  16. ^ "Threats to history seen in budget cuts, bulldozers". The Oklahoman. Associated Press. 20 May 2008 – via Gale.
  17. ^ Wallman, Brittany (23 April 2008). "Bonnet House drops lawsuit against planned 18-storey hotel nearby". Sun-Sentinel. Broward County, FL – via Gale.
  18. ^ Wallman, Brittany (4 June 2007). "Lauderdale high-rise hotel will add to changes for beach". Sun-Sentinel. Broward County, FL – via Gale.
  19. ^ Bubil, Harold (25 October 2008). "Great Houses of Florida: Book celebrates legacy of Florida's 'great houses'". Sarasota Herald Tribune. Sarasota, FL – via Gale.
  20. ^ "Riverwalk A&E District announces addition of partner Bonnet House Museum and Gardens" (Press release). PR Newswire. 9 October 2012 – via Gale.
  21. ^ "Patrick Shavloske has become chief executive officer at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Ft. Lauderdale". Florida Bar News. 44 (1). Florida Bar. 1 January 2017. p. 15 – via Gale.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]