The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation announced today its decision to restructure management operations at the Bonnet House, a 1924 historic estate in Ft. Lauderdale it has owned since 1983. This move signals a significant strategic transition for the organization which will begin 2019 sharpening its focus on historic site stewardship with organizational restructuring.
The decision was made after the current management organization, Bonnet House, Inc., could not identify a satisfactory and economically feasible way forward for the organization that focused on the preservation of both the historic home and the undeveloped land included with the estate. This stretch of land from the Atlantic to the Intracoastal Waterway is the last undeveloped ocean-front land in Ft. Lauderdale.
The Florida Trust worked with Bonnet House, Inc. for more than six months to find a collaborative solution to move forward with the property’s current management team. The process included assistance and guidance from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which, along with the Florida Trust was party to the original Preservation Agreement to protect the Bonnet House and grounds. Bonnet House, Inc. was formed by the Florida Trust in 1990 to manage and operate the property on behalf of the Florida Trust, and has no ownership claim to the Bonnet House property.
“Although we are disappointed that together we were not able to find a collaborative way forward with the Bonnet House that includes the current management team of Bonnet House, Inc., we are certain the restructuring is the right decision for the long-term preservation of the property,” said Melissa Wyllie, executive director of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. “From an organizational management perspective, this move allows us the much needed ability to manage the property responsibly, make strategic decisions and assure the vision for the property is in line with our preservation mission.”
The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation has been the sole owner of the Bonnet House property and grounds since 1983, when its owner Evelyn Bartlett conveyed the property to the Florida Trust for its long term stewardship. The Florida Trust also maintains stewardship of an endowment and is beneficiary of a trust to support the preservation, operation, maintenance and upkeep of the Bonnet House property.
Ms. Bartlett’s express wishes for the property as laid out in the 1983 Preservation Agreement were that the property be “retained and maintained in its current natural condition, unspoiled by development and available for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public,” a goal which remains a perfect fit for the mission of the Florida Trust.
About the Florida Trust
The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation is the state’s non-profit dedicated to protecting Florida’s extraordinary heritage and history. Founded in 1978, the Florida Trust has collaborated to save irreplaceable Florida treasures like the Historic Florida Capitol and is a statewide partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Learn more at FloridaTrust.org and follow on Twitter: @FloridaTrustHP.