Pinewood Estate home tour is one of the most beautiful in Central Florida located at Bok Tower. A must-see for all ages during the holidays.
A Little History
Originally called El Retiro, this estate was built as a winter vacation home for steel magnate Charles Buck and his family, shown in the picture below. The Bok Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower (now the Bok Tower Gardens) were being built in the same area, so Mr. Buck approached the Olmsted Brothers Firm to design a retreat reminiscent of his childhood in Latin America.
Built in 1929, Mr. Buck. who had a personal interest in horticulture, insisted that the gardens come first in the design process and to position the home to take advantage of views and shade. Beginning in 1947, the estate has been passed among several owners until it was purchased by Nellie Lee Holt Bok, in 1970, and renamed Pinewood Estate. The gardens were subsequently restored to their original design.
The Pinewood Estates is a 12,900 square foot 20 room Mediterranean-style home, complete with a barrel-tile roof, thick walls, substantial carved doors and woodwork, and intricately detailed wrought iron. Most of the flooring, indoor plumbing, and fixtures are original to the home.
My husband’s family has a little history with Bok Tower since his grandfather helped build the tower and his mom and family lived in Lake Wales for several years before moving to Atlanta. The picture above shows Mr. G, the small fella in the middle, and his family visiting Bok Tower. We go at least once a year to visit the gardens.
The Pinewood Estates Christmas tour usually runs from the end of November until the first week in January. You can purchase tickets for the tour and gardens online or in person.
Since the live oaks are so large in front of the home, I wasn’t able to get a picture of the entrance. The picture above is of an area at the back of the home which shows just a sampling of the Mediterranean style of this home.
Local volunteers will come and decorate the home and a team of 25+ volunteers will host the tour during the 45 day-long tours. Each year a new theme to decorate with is used. So, you could come back year after year and not see the same Christmas decorations.
TIP: If you have problems with using steps, you may want to call ahead to see if there are other ways to tour the home.
You enter the home with the help of a guide explaining some of the history of the home. The tour is basically self-guided with guides throughout the home to answer any questions.
Your first stop is the pantry area which is really large and a cooks dream. I loved all the storage used in this room. The kitchen was not part of the tour for us because of renovation going on.
The dining room was beautifully decorated with oranges that are grown in the gardens. From Thanksgiving through the first of the year, oranges are in season and found everywhere in Central Florida. Florida’s Natural Growers orange juice company is located in Lake Wales and the smell of oranges is everywhere during harvest time.
There seemed to be a beautiful Christmas tree at every turn. You can see some of the beautiful tile work found throughout the home. Many arch doorways and heavy wooden doors are part of the Mediterranean architecture.
A small reading room with the latest period of radio and phone on display. That chair looks so comfy.
The living room area was just breathtaking. I love all the golds and red throughout the home decor.
Each room has a fireplace but this one, connected to the room in the picture above was massive.
This was my favorite decorated Christmas tree and check out the beautiful ceilings.
There are several bedrooms, as you can imagine, for all the guests who would come to visit during the winter. Playing golf and bridge with formal dinners was an everyday occurrence for the Bucks.
I loved the color of the tile in this bathroom. Don’t you just love it!!
Another beautifully decorated bedroom. If you look closely around the mirror, you will see vintage Bok Tower postcards and old pennants.
I loved how they made the bathtub look like it had bubbles in it. Just adorable.
Another 12 foot Christmas tree at the base of the winding staircase.
Love the manikin Christmas tree used in one of the daughter’s bedrooms.
The dressing table is a must for any girls room.
The daughter’s pink bathroom and beautiful tile work. Love the colors.
On the way out of the estate, this display was just gorgeous with all the silver and glass touches.
There were a couple of glass crystal trees on the table. So delicate.
Even though the inside of the estate is so beautifully decorated, the gardens surrounding the estate has also been decorated for the holidays as well. Living in Central Florida means that you can have flowers and greenery all year long. Poinsettias love the weather here during the winter months.
As you come out from the tour, this garden greets you with a huge live oak and poinsettias. Be sure to walk all around the estate to see the really cute screened in porch filled with Christmas decor.
Another area on the side of the estate where a small vegetable and herb garden is located off of the kitchen.
The 15-foot-tall Christmas tree was created with nearly 350 bromeliads is the show stopper in the garden.
After visiting the estate, be sure to visit the Bok Tower and enjoy all the gardens and ponds in the surrounding 50 acres. The giant Amazon Water Lilies were beautiful and the first time I have ever seen them there.
And I can’t forget to show off the beautiful Bok Tower where Mr. G’s grandfather worked back in the late 1920s. We were told that his grandfather helped place the huge bird statues at the very top of the 205-foot tall tower. Gasp!!
The best time to visit Bok Tower is early in the year, January through March when so many flowering bushes are blooming. There are over 150 varieties of camellias and hundreds of azaleas to view, along with nun’s orchids, irises, coral bean, Mexican flame vine, and other flowering plants as they create an explosion of color throughout the Gardens. Violas, snapdragons, dianthus, delphiniums, hollyhocks, and other annuals also escort the arrival of spring with glorious displays of color. Trees in bloom include native plums and deciduous magnolias.
Location and information
Also, for a little bit of fun, be sure to find Spook Hill in Lake Wales for a fun adventure. As you leave Bok Tower Gardens, go across the street and follow the signs.
The main entrance of Bok Tower is located in Central Florida at 1151 Tower Boulevard in Lake Wales, FL 33853
* * * *
I’m just a country girl loving my geeky life with my wonderful husband, always taking pictures, getting my hands dirty in the garden, being crafty, exploring with travels and enjoying all this on a budget. But above all, living my faith as a child of God!