Base of Bok Tower
Entrance Through Golden Brass Door
Tree Cutout Peephole Above Lock
Mr. Bok’s Gravesite in Front of Golden Brass Door
Inside Founder’s Room Looking Out Golden Brass Door
Inside Looking Up at Soaring Pink Ceilings (capstone is in middle and lantern is at top)
Wrought Iron Lantern (spider web base and birds encircling top)
Wrought Iron Lantern in Front of Carved Marble Window
Florida Mural Above Fireplace
Tile Floor with Star of Life
Colorful Animal Tiles
Recently I attended a special member’s only tour of the Founder’s Room on the first floor of Bok Tower. The Founder’s Room was created as Mr. Bok’s private study. It was exciting to finally go inside the tower! Access to the top of the tower is extremely limited, but we were told that a man had just proposed to his fiancé there, and she said yes!
The only entrance to the Founder’s Room is the golden brass door. The color was chosen to enhance the glory of the 32 Biblical scenes of Creation on the door. The door weighs 1,000 pounds and is polished monthly. A cutout tree on the door serves as a peephole, and a giant brass key opens the door. Notice the small square of white flowers in the grass in front of the door. That is Mr. Bok’s gravesite situated at the base of his beloved tower.
Once inside the Founder’s Room, you notice the soaring pink marble walls, intricate marble windows (each one carved in place from a single block of stone), hanging wrought iron lanterns, massive marble fireplace with Florida mural above, and elaborate tile floor.
The nature theme of the garden and tower are continued throughout the room. The wrought iron lanterns have birds encircling the top, and spider webs on the bottom. The wrought iron stairway leads to a second level, and from there an inner stairway ascends the tower. Alternatively, an original 1928 Otis elevator (the oldest in Florida) escorts people to the top. The eight levels of Bok Tower are (1) Founder’s Room at ground level; (2) Chao Research Center (archival room); (3) Storage and Mechanical Equipment Room; (4) Maintenance Workshop; (5) Carillon Library; (6) Carillon Player’s Office; (7) Carillon Bells and Soundproof Keyboard Playing Cabinet (bells are too loud to play directly beside them); and (8) Roof Top (statues, finials, and lightning rods).
The soaring ceiling is bricked over with a capstone in the middle. This marks the spot where the heavy carillon bells were hoisted up through the tower. Since the bells were too large to fit through the brass door, they entered the tower through the side. That location is now marked by the fireplace on the inside, and the sundial on the outside. The fireplace mantel contains a marble engraving of bell ringers beneath a quote by Bok’s grandmother, “Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it”. An elaborate mural over the fireplace shows an engraving of the State of Florida with Bok Tower in the middle, a sunrise above, flamingoes and alligator below, a figure blowing the wind and compass star on the left, a Spanish galleon on the upper right, and Neptune riding his horses in the sea at the bottom. Spectacular tiles cover the Founder’s Room floor. At the center of the colorful floor is the Star of Life. The six points of the star are said to symbolize the six days of Creation in the Book of Genesis in the Bible. Surrounding it are various kinds of animal tiles.
One visit per year to the ground floor Founder’s Room is granted by appointment to sustaining members of Bok Tower Gardens. It is well worth the trip! A video tour of the inside of the tower is at: http://www.youtube.com/user/boktowergardens?feature=watch
All of our posts on Bok Tower are at: http://naturetime.wordpress.com/category/florida/gardens-florida/bok-tower-gardens-gardens/