The historic Singing Tower carillon and 1932 Pinewood Estate at Bok Tower Gardens each will soon be receiving much-needed restorative work due in part to recent Historic Preservation grants awarded by Florida’s Division of Historical Resources.
“The restoration work we are doing now will preserve these architectural treasures for future generations,” said David Price, president of the Gardens. “The Tower and Pinewood Estate are exemplary works of architecture that are part of Florida’s history, and this work is an investment in the cultural tourism of our State,” Price said.
The Tower restoration project calls for the decorative tile grilles on the upper third of the National Historic Landmark to be restored. J. H. Dulles Allen, founder of Enfield Pottery and Tileworks near Philadelphia, created these massive, intricate and colorful grilles that adorn the openings of the bell chamber, as well as the tile mosaic floor of the Founder’s Room just inside the Tower. The frames on the grilles are rusted, as are the supporting steel frames embedded in the marble and brick.
Beginning in summer of 2014, specialists will remove lead paint and rust, prime and re-paint with special epoxy paint, and repair cracked marble. The scope of this grant project will partially fund work on three of the Tower’s eight tile grille panels. Previous State funding helped facilitate earlier repairs to two others. Bok’s Singing Tower was designed by famed architect Milton Medary, also known for the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge National Historic Park and the 1927 Fidelity Mutual Life Building in Philadelphia. For his neo-Gothic, art deco Tower design, Medary received the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal in 1929.
The historic Pinewood Estate built by Charles Austin Buck in 1932 and acquired by Bok Tower Gardens in 1970 also requires critical restoration work in three primary areas to mitigate further damage to the structure and its gardens. Funding from a second Historic Preservation grant awarded by Florida’s Division of Historical Resources will help cover these costs.
The scope of projects include restoration of the Moongate Garden on the northwest corner of the residence, restoration of the estate’s original copper gutters, and restoration of lighting fixtures and rewiring of interior and exterior fixtures to reduce fire hazard.
The State of Florida has twice supported preservation and restoration projects at Pinewood Estate in 1989 and 2000. One of the activities supported by the State was a comprehensive condition assessment by Renker Parks Architects of St. Petersburg, FL. This study provided Gardens’ management with a preservation “watch” list of Pinewood’s exterior and interior elements so that over time, these could be monitored and sufficient actions taken when necessary. Repairs to Pinewood Estate are slated to begin in mid-January.