We have this beautiful tower in our neck of the woods. It is called Bok Tower after the man who built it...Edward Bok. This tower took 2 years to build and it was built during the height of the depression. The tower itself is not open to the public but the beautiful gardens surround it and the Pinewood Estate, which was purchased by the Bok Foundation in 1970 are. It's a beautiful, serene place to spend a day.
During the course of the year they also have concerts at the base of the tower and many take place in the evenings. Bok Tower is built on the highest ground in the State of Florida.
I am fortunate enough to have a friend who works at Bok Tower and myself and my family were fortunate enough to get a private tour of the Tower.
This is the front door to the Tower. It is made out of solid brass and weighs about 1000 pounds. The outside of the door is polished twice a year. The inside of the door is polished once every 2 years. If you look closely at the 3rd row down on the left...there is a tree. This is actually a peep hole door so you can see who is at the door before you open it. My kids call it the Wizard of Oz door,lol. The door depicts different biblical scenes.
The whole family in front of the door. Front row is Liz holding Layla and Diana holding Rossi. Back row is me, Scott, Hut and Wade.
Edward Bok is buried right at the front door. He did not want to be buried at the Tower but his wife insisted he be buried there after his death. So he is right at the foot of the stairs between the Koi/Swan pond and the front steps.
When you walk in the front door you are in an amazing hall. This is the fireplace. It has alot of hand carved ornamentation that my camera just could not pick up (Thank goodness Santa's bringing me a new camera for Christmas). It has an outline of the state of Florida, some scenes and some sayings. I'm not sure any camera's could do it justice.Here is some of the carved decoration on top of the fireplace. Men playing bells. I guess I should have mentioned that BOK Tower is actually a carillion with about 60 bells. They have a carillioneur that plays everyday during the holiday season and for special concerts they hold throughout the year.
This is the ceiling in the hall. It's peaked. Look at beautiful the bricks are inlayed.This is a balcony in the hall that leads to the second floor. We only got to tour the first floor and the bell tower. The other floors are now used for storage and offices.The railings and stairs are made out of ornate wraought iron. The staircase was a spiral staircase. We all wanted to climb them but they were off limits. Notice how beautiful the bricks and marble are. How boring our building are nowadays that are being built.
This is the tile floor. Stunning! The star in the middle is the Star of Life. I really wish I had posted more pictures of the floor. The floor depicts ocean life, progressing to lakes and rivers and then land. All the tiles depict different types of animals.
These are our gracious hosts....on the right is Martin...he works at Bok Tower and granted us this tour. On the left is his beautiful bride Amneris. We can't thank them enough for giving our whole family the opportunity to do what very few can.
Up to the bell tower. We actually took an elevator up to the top of the tower. The elevator was built originally with the tower in the late 1920's, early 1930's. Very small elevator. We had to make it in two trips. The bell tower holds I believe 60 bells of various sizes. There is a room right under the bell that has a keyboard that the carillioneur plays. It was too dark to get any pictures through the windows.
A little dark but this is the largest bell in the tower.
The bell tower has 4 balconies (one on each side) that we could go out on and see the view. There is ornamentation going alot further up the building from the top floor that we were on. This is tile work going up the side from the balconey. This was all just cleaned and the workers actually climbed the sides of the tower to clean them. Not a job I would want.
Also at the top and on all four corners are these hand-carved Griffins. At least I think they are Griffins. Martin called them monsters. Can you imagine carving these by hand at the VERY TOP of the building? And back almost 100 years ago.
Here is a view from one of the balconies. I love this view because it shows that there are still some orange and other citrus groves in Florida. As a matter of fact...BOK Tower has working groves on their property.
A view from another angle. We believe this is Mountain Lake. Mountain Lake is one of the places that the Millionaires of the day would stay. And some still do. The Rockefellers stayed ehre and I believe they still do. Also one of the members of the Trans Syberian Orchestra has an estate there.
And yet another view from one of the balconies. As you can see Polk County is still very rural. And I hope it stays that way.
A view of the Koi/Swan pond from the top of the tower. I'm so glad my son Scott was taking these photos, lol, as I have a terrible fear of heights.
A not so clear shot of Edward Boks tomb from the top of the tower.This is a shot looking up from the entranceway to the tower. We were way up there. Now it's on to the Pinewood Estate for their Christmas displays.We actually stopped on the other side of the Koi/Swan pond for some photo ops. This is Diana, Rossi, Wade and Layla in the front.
Liz and Scott. Notice the tower in the background in both photos. It's so beautiful.Right outside of the Pinewood Estate there was a huge picture frame for photo ops. So you know we took advantage of that. Here is Liz and Scott.
And Diana, Rossi, Wade and Layla.
The Pinewood Estate was built by C. Austin Buck around the same time as Bok Tower. Mr. Buck was a very wealthy man. He was vice-president of Bethlemhem Steel in Pennsylvania. His family only used the house 6 weeks out of the year. It is a 20 room Meditearanian Style house. My favorite part is it has 5 bedrooms all with their own bathrooms. I would love to have my own bathroom. And of course I have no picture of the house itself, just the Christmas decorations.
This is the Christmas tree in the kitchen. It is set in front of an elevator. It it believed Mr. Buck's mother was in a wheelchair and they used this lift to get her to the upstairs rooms. The staircase next to the tree comes off the main entrance and was not built for fluffy people like me.I have decided to make this a two-parter so you wouldn't have to continue to wait until I finished with the rest of the pictures. Hopefully I will be able to post Part II tomorrow, but now promises. :)