Florida Guide > Other Activities
Historic Bok Santuary - Gardens – BellTower – Estate
The Historic Bok Sanctuary with its magnificent Tower and gardens is one of Polk Counties best kept secrets. Having visited the Orlando area over 18 times this is the first time we had heard of this place!
The sanctuary is situated on one of the highest points in Florida at Lake Wales Ridge – 298 feet above sea level. It is a very peaceful and restful place with its large lawns and beautiful shrubs, flowers and of course lots of beautiful wildlife. In recent years they have been collecting endangered plants in an attempt to cultivate. The centrepiece is the Bell Tower itself, it stands 205 high and has a gothic and art deco Carillon tower. The tower holds 60 bronze bells that are all controlled from an elaborate keyboard. The tower building is in itself a masterpiece; it is made out of pink marble (brought in from Georgia) and natural Floridian stone. The Carillon piece at the top of the tower is created with various coloured tiles to make amazing pictures of birds and wildlife. The tower on one side has a large lake with its own swans; again all is very beautiful and peaceful.
Music is played from the tower daily with special concerts also being held for example on Independence Day. The grounds are large with many seats so you are able to sit and listen to the music, take in the views, enjoy a picnic and simply enjoy the peacefulness of the place.
There is an excellent information centre upon first arrival at the site showing you all the history behind the tower, along with the original keyboard used in the Tower when it was first built back in the late 1920’s. It also shows you many photographs taken whilst the tower was being built, along with some personal artefacts of the owner Edward W Bok.
Edward Bok was born in the Netherlands in 1863, and was six when he moved to America with his family. Edward decided to create a sanctuary for birds and also for the people in Florida because he fell in love with the state and in particular its beauty.
When the construction had finished and the gardens completed President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the site in 1929 as a gift for the visitation by the American People.
This location really is something special and a far cry the Orlando area that most of us are aware of – it is a real treasure and a place I can highly recommend as a great place to visit for R& R !
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