Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

Enjoy wandering around the charming historic home, first built in 1920 when Florida was one of the nation’s last frontier outposts.

The Bonnet House site was purchased by Hugh Taylor Birch in 1895. Birch gave the Bonnet House property as a wedding gift to his daughter Helen and her husband, Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett in 1919. The two began construction of Bonnet House in 1920, intending it to be a winter retreat where Frederic could pursue his artwork and Helen could compose music and poetry.

After Helen tragically passed from breast cancer in 1925, Frederic’s visits to Bonnet House became sporadic until 1931 when he married Evelyn Fortune Lilly. Upon getting married, Frederic and Evelyn began embellishing Bonnet House with the decorative elements that delight visitors to this day. Frederic died in 1953, but Evelyn continued to return each winter. In 1983, Evelyn gave Bonnet House to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.