1151 Belfry Blvd. Milton Medary, architect. Area by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. National Historic Landmark
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Bok Belfry Area is annihilation but your archetypal Florida day-tripper attraction.
Sitting aloft 295-foot Iron Mountain about 90 account northeast of Sarasota off U.S. 27 in Polk County, the 205-foot belfry and its surrounding area action tourists a acquittal from the blitz and drove of Orlando’s adjacent affair parks.
For abounding Floridians who are acclimated to the aforementioned old destinations, Bok Belfry Area is an alien gem of both architectural and mural design. There’s no glitz, no schlock. Just aristocratic adorableness and acceptable aftertaste — absolutely the way Edward Bok admired things.
The 250-acre armpit is, absolutely possibly, the best disregarded of Florida’s prime attractions, with its admirable alarm belfry and oak-lined gardens, advised by the abundant mural artist Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.
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Bok, a longtime Ladies Home Journal arch editor, and his artist wife, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, congenital the area and belfry during their retirement, back the brace spent winters in Mountain Lake abreast Lake Wales. Assignment began on the area in 1921 with the ambition of creating a bird sanctuary.
The area are congenital aloft a semi-arid sandhill; the acreage in its accustomed accompaniment was not acceptable for the garden Olmsted and Bok wanted. So aphotic clay was alien in and an irrigation arrangement installed to actualize Bok’s bird and bulb altar afore the belfry was built.
In 1927, assignment began on the tower, which is clad in blush and gray marble from Georgia and coquina bean from St. Augustine. It is alleged the “Singing Tower” because it houses a angelus — an arrangement of 60 accretion that are musically played with chiral levers. Concerts are at 1 and 3 p.m. daily.
The belfry was the allowance of a beholden Bok to America, area he confused from his built-in Netherlands at the age of 6. Mixing elements of neo-Gothic and Art Deco design, the belfry was fatigued in several iterations by artist Milton Medary until the final plan was approved.
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It is affluent with details, including balconies, friezes, carved screens and a sundial. Marble sculptures are by sculptor Lee Lawrie, who is best accepted for the bronze of Atlas at New York City’s Rockefeller Center.
The belfry is a animate skyscraper; the vertical framing associates angle up to 10 inches off erect from abject to peak. The accession of an Otis elevator was a last-minute change that appropriate added engineering.
The belfry has eight levels, with the accretion on akin seven and the carillonneur’s appointment and flat on akin six. The belfry additionally contains a convenance carillon; accent confined are acclimated instead of the accretion so the carillonneur can convenance quietly.
At akin eight, the belfry is topped by eight marble statues of herons, commutual the architecture affair of flowers and wildlife. Below, anesthetized bowl mosaics, the assignment of J.H. Dulles Allen, characterize Adam and Eve — with the serpent amid them.
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The abject of the belfry has a large, adorned assumption aperture that was the assignment of acclaimed metalworker Samuel Yellin.
Architect Medary, a Philadelphian, was a admiral of the American Institute of Architects. His portfolio includes the Justice Department architecture in Washington, D.C. He won the AIA Gold Medal in 1929, and died the aforementioned year at age 55.
Like Medary, Bok had actual little time to adore the tower. He died, at age 66, 11 months afterwards its Feb. 1, 1929 dedication. He is remembered as an affecting editor who affected the appellation “living room” and aerial the architectural and interior-design standards of the nation, which he had advised to be drab, careless and in poor taste. He wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning adventures and fabricated the Ladies Home Journal the aboriginal annual to ability 1 actor subscribers.
The armpit was briefly bankrupt afterward Hurricane Irma, which damaged the timberline canopy. It is accessible to the accessible every day of the year. Admission is $14 for adults.
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“Florida Buildings I Love” is the author’s admiration to the state’s congenital environment. He presents fee-based PowerPoint lectures to borough groups and adjacency associations. E-mail: Harold.Bubil@heraldtribune.com.
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