Bok Tower Gardens
Lake Wales, FL
Bok Tower Gardens
Lake Wales, Florida
United States

In 1922, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. was commissioned to design Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower.

About Bok Tower Gardens 

In 1922, Ladies Home Journal editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward William Bok commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to transform a sandhill near Lake Wales, FL, into a garden sanctuary. 

Originally called Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower, the designed landscape included a cultivated garden surrounded by natural areas nestled in an agricultural landscape, free from the noise and disruption of development.

Over the next five years, Olmsted and his team diligently planted a mix of native and non-native plants that would thrive in the area’s humid climate and lend a tropical feel to the native sandhill. He also carefully selected plants that would provide a hearty supply of food and shelter for migrating birds and other wildlife. 

The pathways that wind through the historic Olmsted gardens lead to the site’s famous Singing Tower, a 205-foot-tall carillon, and a highly-photographed reflection pool. 

Today, the site, now called Bok Tower Gardens, remains a garden and bird sanctuary. It has expanded from its original 50-acres to nearly 600 acres (including garden and natural lands), and it welcomes thousands of visitors each year. 

For the Olmsted 200 bicentennial celebration in 2022, Bok Tower Gardens partnered with the Olmsted Network (then called the National Association for Olmsted Parks) to host the Inspired by Olmsted: International Carillon Festival. The garden’s carillonneur, Geert D’hollander, was awarded first prize. See his composition here.


    Early Bok Tower plans. Image courtesy of FLONHS.

    Early tower base plan. Image courtesy of FLONHS.

    Early drawing of Bok Tower base. Image courtesy of FLONHS.

    Early plantings rendering for tower base. Image courtesy of FLONHS.

    Relocating trees for Bok Tower planting. Image courtesy of FLONHS.

    Bok Tower construction begins. Image courtesy of FLONHS.

    Bok Tower construction in progress. Image courtesy of FLONHS.

    Aerial photograph of Bok Tower from 1933. Image courtesy of FLONHS.

    Easter sunrise concert, Bok Towers, 1936. Image courtesy of FLONHS.


Shared Spaces


Biltmore Estate

Biltmore House, George Vanderbilt’s 250-room chateau, was completed in 1895 and is nestled within 8,000 acres of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Buffalo Park System

Buffalo’s Olmsted Park System is America’s oldest coordinated system of public parks and parkways.