Aug 25, 2005

The Bok Tower

Bok Tower - April 5, 1931 Posted by Picasa

Since Grandma Kate died, I have been working (off and on) on our family genealogy. I found this picture of the Bok Tower among her pictures, which she kept in an old tin box that once held Peek Frean's "famous English biscuits." Grandma, her brother Bob, and her parents are seen in a series of pictures taken in front of the tower and at the gate to the Historic Bok Sanctuary. The Sanctuary includes a belltower, an estate, and gardens. The pictures are marked on the back in faint pencil with the date and a brief description of the scene. The top picture is marked, "Bob, Dud and Ada in front of the gate at the Bok Tower, Lake Wales, Florida, April 5, 1931." Grandma's mother and father were Dudley and Ada Ringleben. You just don't hear names like Dudley or Ada anymore, and I've only met one Ringleben outside our family in my whole life. The bottom right side picture is marked, "Ada, Bob & Kate looking very sad because they're getting rained on. Though our hats and clothes dried out and looked about as good as before." Even if I hadn't known the handwriting on the back of the picture was hers, I'd have known she wrote those words. They just sound like something she would say.

Bok Tower Posted by Picasa

Today, the Bok Tower still stands as a National Historic Landmark. The sanctuary's gardens were designed by the famous landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, who "turned a sandhill into a subtropical garden." Olmsted was also the landscape architect for the White City, at the Columbian Exposition World's Fair in Chicago, 1893.

Edward Bok Posted by Picasa

I found this picture of Edward Bok on the website for the Historic Bok Sanctuary and noticed that he looked a lot happier than most men of his ilk in pictures taken during that era. I read his history and I think it makes sense that he looks as pleased as he does. He was not only a wealthy and successful man, but he also did a lot of good things with his money and his time. Born in the Netherlands, his contributions are listed on the website for The Historical Bok Sanctuary, including:
  • In 1921, he created The Philadelphia Award of $10,000 a year to the citizen of Philadelphia or vicinity who, during the preceding year, performed or brought to its culmination an act or contributed a service calculated to advance the best interests of the community of Philadelphia.
  • In 1921, he founded The Philadelphia Forum.
  • In 1922, he founded the Citizens' Award of $1,000 to be awarded each year, to each of the policemen, firemen and park guards of the city of Philadelphia who performed an outstanding act of service, or contributed to the efficiency of the service during the preceding calendar year.
  • In 1923, he created The American Peace Award, providing $100,000 for the best practicable plan by which the United States might co-operate with other nations to achieve and preserve the peace of the world, one half to be paid upon the acceptance of the plan by a selected jury, and the balance upon its acceptance by the Senate. The plan submitted by Doctor Charles Herbert Levermore of the New York Peace Society won the award.
  • In 1923, he created The Harvard Advertising Awards bestowed by the Harvard University School of Business Administration for raising the standard of advertisements in American and Canadian periodicals and for the intelligent conception and execution of plans for advertising.
  • In 1925, Bok created The American Foundation, Incorporated, (later known as The Bok Tower Gardens Foundation, Inc.)
  • In 1926, Bok founded, with others, The Philadelphia Commission, devoted to the beautification of the metropolitan area at Philadelphia. He also established the Woodrow Wilson Professorship of Literature of Princeton University by endowment, and in 1929 he established "The Woodrow Wilson Chair" at Williams College by endowment.
  • On February 1, 1929, President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the Sanctuary in Lake Wales, Florida, that Bok had made as a gift for visitation by the American people in gratitude for the opportunity they had given him.
Edward Bok died in Lake Wales in 1930 and he is buried at the base of the Bok Tower. The Bok Tower is great monument to its creator and a lovely gift from Edward Bok to America. I'm glad Grandma Kate took so many pictures of her travels, and I hope one day to visit some of the beautiful places she has been.

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