• The viewshed of Bok Tower Gardens reveals the groves, woods and fields that lead to distant vistas. Much is now preserved.

  • The viewshed will preserve our citrus heritage while replanting derelict groves with natural vegetation.

  • The viewshed will ensure open spaces retain their natural character.

  • The viewshed will provide habitat for gopher tortoises and native plants and animals.

Luther Parrott, previous executive director of Green Horizon, looks over lands preserved from Bok Tower in Lake Wales.

Edward Bok knew people would flock to Central Florida in great numbers. In deciding that Iron Mountain should remain undisturbed, Bok possessed both the foresight and the checkbook to create an icon for the ages. He presented the extraordinary gift of Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower, now known as Bok Tower Gardens, to the American people Feb. 1, 1929.

The gardens graced by the "Singing Tower" were always intended as a sanctuary, a tranquil oasis where music, shade, and beauty prevailed over the hectic commercial pace of what were then called “attractions.”

What is a "Viewshed?"

The Singing Tower is the centerpiece of historic Bok Tower Gardens on top of Iron Mountain north of Lake Wales. (click for larger view.)

The 298 foot elevation of Iron Mountain may seem slight to those used to the Smokies, but it is a towering peak for Florida, and the view from the sanctuary is surprisingly vast.  In the immediate forefront are groves, woods, and fields; in the farther distance, Lake Pierce, the Ridge, the Kissimmee Valley… The term for this is “viewshed,” like “watershed” a clearly definable domain centered around a high point and one of the sanctuary’s greatest assets.

In 2005, the Green Horizon Land Trust joined with Bok Tower Gardens to seek funding to preserve the garden's "viewshed" for pertituity. The partnership successfully secured a fully-funded grant of over 2 million from from Florida Communities Trust (FCT).  Green Horizon and Bok Tower Gardens also partnered on a grant from the Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation to receive a $25,000. grant to work toward a restoration plan for this project.

In 2007, Green Horizon Land Trust completed its land acquisitions within the viewshed of Bok Tower Gardens.  The total lands acquired in ownership and conservation easements include 260 acres. These include 40 acres to be restored to longleaf pine habitat, and an additional 120 acres of citrus groves acquired under conservation easements that will continue to be managed as groves. 

Restoration and improvements aslo include a small park behind Lake Wales High School as well as hiking trails with interpretive signs within the project. These trails connect to existing trails at Bok Tower Gardens. In partnership with Green Horizon, Bok Tower Gardens will restore and manage this land.

David Price, President of Bok Tower Gardens Foundation said, “The partnership with Green Horizon Land Trust has protected for future generations, the beauty of a cultural landscape that is so important to the historic design of the Gardens. The Trust has done so much for the community and the State toward preservation of our cultural heritage.”

Where to Go

Click to see the viewshed and areas protected.

The conservation lands of the viewshed include citrus groveland easements to the south and east of Mt. Lake Estates bordering Bok Tower properties, stretching down to the Lake Wales High school, where the public can access a nature trail. Public access through restoration lands is also available from the trails at Bok Tower Gardens.