Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bok Tower

Located in Lake Wales – Florida's highest point – Bok Tower is one of this country's most beautiful National Landmarks. It's a 60-bell carillon that was built by Edward W. Bok, who gave it to the American people in 1929.

Edward W. Bok came to the United States from the Netherlands when he was six years old. At an early age, he had an amazing facility for making friends with important people through letter writing. It was an asset that would come in handy throughout his life in publishing. (Bok's talent for befriending famous people is well documented in Dale Carnegie's 1936 best seller, How To Win Friends and Influence People.) Eventually Bok became the publisher of The Ladies Home Journal, which he turned into a serious magazine, and the first to have over a million subscribers. He retired a wealthy man and then turned his attention to building his beautiful carillon.

Bok spared no expense. The 205-foot tall tower was designed by architect Milton B. Medary and was constructed from Georgia marble. The grounds, which cover a steep hill, were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.

Lee Lawrie carved intricate flora and fauna details in the Art Deco style. I especially like this window.

Wrought iron fences, gates and hardware were fashioned by America's premier metal worker, Samuel Yellin.

The top of the tower features a filigree of ceramic tile by the artist J. H. Dulles Allen. The grilles, which are at bell-level, measure 10 feet wide and 35 feet high. The bells were made by the John Taylor & Co., Ltd. bell foundry of Loughborough, England. There are 60 bells in all, weighing from 16 pounds to almost 12 tons.

Click to read the sign
Bok Tower is open 365 days a year, and the carillon bells ring on the half hour. Live performances can be heard at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. One fun feature is an outdoor video that allows visitors to watch the carillonneur play in real time.

Edward Bok is buried at the base of the carillon, by a reflecting pool inhabited by two Mute Swans.

Adjacent to Bok Tower, and open to tours, is Pinewood, the estate of one of Edward Bok's neighbors. Pinewood has been preserved as it was in the 1930s, and is a perfect complement to the Bok Tower visit.


  1. Hi Mark, Very interesting, loved the carved stone and, of course, the hand painted tiles. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi, Gina. The tile work is a great statement, as you can see from the first image. Too bad that one isn't able to see the tiles at a close range ...

  3. What an interesting story and superb edifice. The image of the swan, water and tower base is enchanting and dreamlike. The marble appears to be a true rose colour; how amazing. I've never seen a technique like this unique mosaic grille work.

    I hope that such a superb building is well maintained, it is a treasure, and I enjoyed learning about it.

  4. Those Dutch were very enterprising. Love that window with the Lawrie details - beautiful!

  5. Quintessence, a recurring quotation at Bok Tower is "Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it." Those were the words to Bok from his grandmother, when the family left Holland.

  6. SwF, the tower is constructed of Florida Coquina rock and pink and gray Georgia marble. It's a stunning combination.

  7. Having seen my share of towers lately , this one is really remarkable! It is truly a work of art.

  8. Lovely tower! The details look amazing! Have a beautiful day, Kellie xx

  9. been away for awhile and look what I return too - gorgeous! I really need to visit this place. Love that marble.

  10. Hi, Kellie and Stefan. Stefan, you would certainly enjoy this spot, though I have to say that it's a little disappointing that there are no tours inside the carillon.