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A Part of Florida History

By Linda Tancs

Bathed in tall palms, Fort Lauderdale’s Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is a part of Florida history. In fact, archaeological evidence suggests that the estate represents one of the first sites of Spanish contact with the New World. And a shell midden illustrates habitation by the Tequesta, one of the first tribes in South Florida. In addition to its historic significance, the grounds are one of the last examples in the area of a native barrier island habitat. Five distinct ecosystems can be found on the property, including the Atlantic Ocean beach and primary dune, a fresh water slough, a secondary dune, mangrove wetlands and a maritime forest. The property’s former owner, Evelyn Bartlett, was a passionate orchid collector. When she gave Bonnet House to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, the orchid varieties she left them comprise one of the largest collections in the Southeast.

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