Florida Explore: Bok Tower Gardens

June 9th 2023 in Explore
Florida Explore: Bok Tower Gardens

Bok Tower Gardens

Lake Wales, Florida

Set atop Iron Mountain in Florida; this carillon is maybe the most magnificent in the world.

Following a winter visit along Florida's Lake Wales Ridge, Edward W. Bok, a Dutch immigrant, and his wife, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, decided to establish a bird refuge. After deciding on a spot, Bok hired landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. to bring his idea to life. The project began in 1921 and ended in 1926. The end effect is a lush bird refuge.

Edward Bok's gift to the American people was Bok Tower Gardens. Iron Mountain, one of Florida's highest points, is part of the property. The Carillon Tower was constructed atop a 295-foot-high hill. One of the world's best carillons, a bell-based instrument and the heaviest of all musical instruments, is housed within the tower. The site also features the world's largest carillon library, which exclusively contains carillon-related books, articles, recordings, music scores, slides, and images.

Milton B. Medary designed the 205-foot neo-Gothic and Art Deco singing tower with stone sculpture by Lee Lawrie, the designer of Atlas at Rockefeller Centre.

Metalworker Samuel Yellin constructed a brass door depicting the Book of Genesis. He wrought iron gates, beautifying the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. There is a cost to enter the building. H. Dulles Allen designed the tiles covering the skyscraper's upper section.

The gardens were created by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also built New York City's Central Park and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. There is also a Children's Garden where kids can have fun. It has a sandpit, a water park, and other interactive features. Dogs are permitted for a charge.

Every day between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the 60-bell carillon at Bok Gardens is played.

I-4 West will take you from Orlando. I-4 East departs from Tampa. Continue on I-4 until you reach Exit 55. Take Exit 55 and travel south on U.S. Highway 27 for about 23 miles. Continue through two traffic lights past Eagle Ridge Mall. Mountain Lake Cut-Off Road is on the left. Turn right (south) onto County Road 17 (Scenic Highway) at the traffic light. Continue for 3/4 mile on C.R. 17. Burns Avenue (County Road 17-A) will be on your left. Continue for 1.3 miles on Burns Avenue. A primary entry sign to Bok Tower Gardens will be on your left. Proceed to the entrance gate on the left.