Bok Tower Gardens

1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales FL

Bok Tower

Bok Tower Gardens is a botanical garden and bird scantuary, consisting of a 250 acre garden and the 205 ft tall Sinigning Tower and visitors centre.

It was built on Iron Mountain, one of the highest points in Florida. The mountain contains citronelle, which is a hematite-containing rock that oxidizes when exposed to air, resulting in the red-brown color of the earth.

The gardens began in 1921 when Edward Bok, a magazine editor and his wife, from Philadelphis, decided to build a bird scantuary whilst spending the winters in Lake Wales. The first year was spent digging trenches and laying pipes for irrigation. The plan included the planting of 1,000 large oaks, 10,000 azaleas, 100 sabal palms, 300 magnolias, and 500 gordonias, as well as hundreds of fruit shrubs such a blueberry and holly. It took five years to construct Bok Tower Gardens.

The Singing Tower is the centerpiece of the gardens and was built, at the highest elevation of the site, south of a reflection pool to allow the water to reflect its full image. It was originally intended to house the garden's water tanks and inside the 205-foot Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower sits a 60-bell carillon. Recitals are given daily at 1pm and 3pm from the 60-bell carillon set. Construction on the tower began in 1927 and was completed in time for the dedication of the gardens in 1929. The tower is 51 feet square at its base, it changes form at 150 feet to an octagon with 37 feet sides. The tower is surrounded by a 15-foot moat that has become a Koi pond. The moat is built from pink Etowah marble and grey Creole marble from Georgia coquina stone from Daytona Beach, Florida.

The interior of the tower is not open to the public but it contains the Anton Brees Carillon Library. It also stores the Chao Research Center Archives which keeps various institutional records related to Bok Tower. A treat for graduating seniors from Lake Wales High School is to have the very rare opportunity to see the inside of the tower each year. Edward Bok died on 9th January1930 and was interred at the base of the tower.

Pinewood Estate is a 20 room Mediterranean style property which occupies eight acres of gardens and was completed in 1932. It was the winter home of C. Austin Buick, VP of Bethlehem Steel and was acquired by the Bok Tower Gardens in 1970.