Bonnet House

The Bonnet House (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.


This Fort Lauderdale 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. Bartlett donated his extensive art collection to the Art Institute of Chicago to memorialize his late wife. Bartlett was a self-taught architect; the main house is based on his interpretation of Caribbean plantation-style architecture. Bartlett then married Evelyn Fortune Lilly, ex-wife of Eli Lilly, and they continued to use the home as a winter residence until he died in 1953 and hers in 1997. 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. The estate was valued at $35 million, the largest single private donation in state history. 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.”


The principal buildings include; the main house, an art studio, a music studio, and a guest house. They are all of vernacular architecture designed by Bartlett. The estate is 35.4 acres (14.3 ha). It includes 100 feet (30 m) of beach. In April 2015, Bonnet House officials completed five years of negotiations with the city of Fort Lauderdale to designate the 700-foot (210 m) 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. In addition, there are five different ecosystems within the property; primary and secondary dunes, mangrove wetlands, a freshwater slough, and a maritime forest. Pristine Water Damage Restoration


In 1987, 6,000 visitors took the 90-minute tour of the site. Evelyn Bartlett had a pet monkey and bought 30 to 40 monkeys to live in the estate’s trees. When a local bar, LeClub, that featured monkeys closed, they fled to the Bonnet House. In 2014 at least three of them still lived there. 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. It was the Finish Line for the seventh season of the hit CBS reality show The Amazing Race. It also was a filming location for the movie Hoot. In May 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the building as one of America’s Most Endangered Places. The same year, the Bonnet House settled a lawsuit against a developer planning an 18-story hotel nearby. The settlement included almost half a million dollars for landscaping to obscure the view of the new building. The proposed hotel had been controversial; many in favor and opposed spoke at public hearings. Also 2008, it was featured in the book Great Houses of Florida. In 2012, the Bonnet House joined the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District as a cultural partner. In 2017, Patrick Shavloske was named chief executive officer.

Address: 900 N Birch Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL

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