Journaling: In the early 1920s, editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Bok wintered in the Lake Wales area and became enamored of this part of Florida. He purchased the hilltop property and commissioned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to create the gardens. It took a year to dig trenches and lay the irrigation pipes to turn the arid scrub into “a spot of beauty second to none in the country.” When the gardens were finished, Bok felt something was missing and decided to build the 205-foot Singing Tower, reminiscent of the carillons of his native Netherlands. The tower is primarily neo-Gothic in style with touches of Art Deco in the pink marble sculpture. The carillon consists of 60 bells, ranging in weight from 16 pounds to 12 tons. The bells ring every half hour, and carillon concerts can be heard each day at 1:00 and 3:00 PM. President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the gardens on February 1, 1929. Edward Bok died in Lake Wales on January 9, 1930, and is buried at the base of the Singing Tower. Located on eight acres of the gardens is Pinewood Estate, a 20-room Mediterranean style mansion built in the 1930s by C. Austin Buck, a 20th century industrialist and vice president of Bethlehem Steel. The estate was acquired by Bok Tower Gardens in 1970 and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Katie Pertiet
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