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Bonnet House: Fort Lauderdale, Florida


What a gorgeous piece of preoperty the Bonnet House is on. The Bonnet House (also known as the Bartlett Estate) is an historic home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 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 Lily Bonnet. The property is a total of 35 acres. The property was originally acquired in 1895 by Hugh Taylor Birch, a successful Chicago lawyer. He had bought a total of 3 miles of beachfront property then.


By the time early settler Hugh Taylor Birch purchased the Bonnet House site back in 1895, the grounds had already witnessed 4,000 years of Florida history. A shell midden left by the Tequesta people indicates that human activity on the site dates back to 2,000 B.C. while further archaeological evidence suggests that the grounds saw one of the first sites of Spanish contact with the New World.

Bonnet House’s modern history began when Birch gave the Bonnet House property as a wedding gift to his daughter Helen and her husband, Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett in 1919. The newlyweds began construction of Bonnet House in 1920, eager for a winter retreat where Frederic could pursue his artwork and Helen could compose music and poetry.


Tragedy struck in 1925 when Helen died from breast cancer. Frederic’s visits to Bonnet House then became sporadic until 1931 when Bartlett 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.

I particularly loved the kitchen, the pantry and dining room.

Adorable kitchen!

I like the fact that this house was meant to be lived in and not a place to impress visitors such as Henry Flagler's Whitehall.

The Shell Garden

After Frederic's death in 1953, Evelyn continued to return each winter. In 1983, Evelyn Fortune Bartlett gave Bonnet House to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.


Her contribution—at the time, the largest charitable gift in Florida history—ensured that the site would be preserved for the enjoyment and education of future generations.


Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1984 and declared a historic landmark by the City of Fort Lauderdale in 2002.

In 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included Bonnet House in its Save America’s Treasures program. Due to the threat posed by inappropriately massive nearby development, the National Trust and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation designated listed Bonnet House as one of America’s 11 most endangered sites in 2008.


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