Historic Bonnet House Tour Fundraiser for the Educational Foundation written by Guest Blogger Melissa Blanchenay, VP of Communications, Florida Chapter IFDA

Bonnet House Estate Entry

Members and guests, including Marsha Koch, Ted and Cindy Perrella, Melissa Blanchenay and Mom, Selma, Mike and Polly Peterson, Beverly Stewart and guests, Caroline Rogow, Sylvia Wallace and Lynn Sciarrone.

This year, the IFDA Florida Chapter took a different approach to fundraising for the Educational Foundation. Beverly Stewart, chapter VP of events, arranged for a tour of the historic Bonnet House,  paired with a delicious luncheon afterwards. It was a wonderful day of fundraising, touring and fascinating local history.

The courtyard of the Bonnet House designed by Barlett complete with a custom designed bird cage peeking above the hedge.

The Bonnet House, created in 1920 by a Chicago-born artist of note, Frederic Clay Bartlett, sits on land gifted to his second wife by her prominent attorney father, Hugh Taylor Birch.  The ocean-side estate is an expression of pared-down genteel living. Located in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, the family wintered there for several decades despite some initially wild and primitive conditions.

Portrait of Mr. Bartlett and his daughter by Evelyn Lily.

Bartlett, one of the most successful working artists of his time, went on to design the interiors. He curated interesting objects from journeys abroad as well as prodigious amounts of art.  His third wife, Evelyn Fortune Lily, was an artist in her own right, specializing in portraiture.

Our excellent Docent tells tales in the living room.

Guiding us through the grounds was an enthusiastic docent who shared extensive knowledge as well as a deep understanding of the family’s life.

Seashells were brought by the Bartlett’s many guests and collected from all over the world. They also adorned the walls and ceilings. Marsha Koch, Sylvia Wallace and Caroline Rogow enjoy this amazing space.

A favorite stop was the orchid and seashell cottage, complete with its own bamboo barroom, which Bartlett had commissioned as a birthday gift to Evelyn.

The Bamboo Barroom

The well-attended tour and raffle held at the luncheon that followed at Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen helped raise additional funds for EF. Cupcakes in the signature “Bonnet House yellow were lovingly donated to the cause as well.

Yes they tasted as good…no better than they looked. Thanks Selma!

Guests and members were fascinated by the artist’s studio and and the stories our docent shared.

I seemed Fredrick could walk in any minute and start painting.  He painted everything, walls, doors, ceilings and floors!


Blogger Melissa snaps a few photos for her post and article for the National Network Newsletter.

Did Melissa dress to match the fuschia ordids shown here in the orchid house?

On July 5, 1984, the site was added to the U.S. Register of Historic Places. The Florida Chapter will explore applying for a Historic Preservation grant through EF to help Bonnet House with its ongoing preservation efforts.  The Bonnet House is named after the native Florida bonnet lily that grows in the ponds surrounding the estate.

*This was excerpted from an original blogpost featured at www.myeyeondesign.com

Thank you to Melissa for her wonderful recap of our lovely day.  If you haven’t visited the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens you don’t know what you are missing@