Friday, December 17, 2010

Historic Bok Sanctuary

We drove into the west central part of Florida today, to the town of Lake Wales. While traveling toward this area we drove past many orange groves as well as strawberry fields. Our major stop of the day was at the Bok Sanctuary.  Edward Bok was a Dutch immigrant at the turn of the twentieth century who lived by the credo of his grandmother: "make you the world a bit better place or more beautiful because you have lived in it".  He was a Pulitzer-prize winning author and editor of  Ladies Home Journal", as well as a humanitarian. It was during his winter visits to Florida that he witnessed the dramatic sunsets and beauty of Iron Mountain, peninsular  Florida's highest point. He wanted to share that peaceful place with the American public, so he commissioned world-renowned masters to create a landscaped garden, 250 foot carillon tower, and a wildlife refuge. The sanctuary was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1929.
There are only a few days out of every week that recitals are played from the 60 bell carillon. While we there, however,  it was recorded Christmas music which we heard coming from the tower.The tower is made of coquina and marble, and the colorful grilles at the top are ceramic tiles. There is also a brass door at the bottom which features scenes from the creation story. The tower was built at the highest point of the mountain. From here we could look down on groves of citrus fields. So much of Florida is flatland that it felt a bit strange looking down at the Florida countryside.
 The home on the grounds of the sanctuary was built in 1930 by Charles Austin Buck, an American industrialist (vice-president of Bethlehem Steel). The home, which is called Pinewood Estate, is of Mediterranean Revival architecture. It features tall, striking, decorative doors and formal fireplaces elaborately designed. The house was beautifully decorated for Christmas when we toured it. The entrance hall's dramatic staircase features a different tile on each riser, and is quite stunning, even more so dressed in its Christmas finery.
The last picture I have here is of the side courtyard.  The poinsettias certainly give it a touch of Christmas.

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