Pinewood Estate, Lake Wales, FL
Pinewood Estate, Lake Wales, FL

Lake Wales,


United States

El Retiro

This estate was built as a winter home for steel magnate Charles Buck. With the Olmsted Brothers working on nearby Bok Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower (now the Bok Tower Gardens), Buck approached the firm to design a retreat reminiscent of his childhood in Latin America. Beginning in 1929, landscape architect William Lyman Phillips laid out the grounds and, working closely with a Buck and architect Charles Wait, positioned the home to take advantage of views and shade. With a personal interest in horticulture, Buck insisted that the gardens come first in the design process. Beginning in 1947, the estate passed among several owners until it was purchased by Nellie Lee Holt Bok, in 1970, and renamed Pinewood Estate. The gardens were subsequently restored to their original design by landscape architect Rudy Favretti.

Now part of Bok Tower Gardens, the estate contains a cluster of courtyards and porches that effectively merges indoor and outdoor rooms and reinforces a sense of sanctuary. At the back of the house, a densely shaded patio with a small Spanish-tiled fountain looks out onto manicured hedges and lush plantings of palms and olives. Announced by large clay jars once used for storing olive oil, a linear path leads directly to a half-hidden stone grotto that surrounds a small pool. Elsewhere, a brick-walled rectangular terrace lawn opens onto a jet spray fountain via a distinct circular portal called a moon gate.  Along with the shade from tall live oaks and pines, the water features provide respite in the hot climate. The home, positioned near the middle of the 7.5-acre grounds, is bordered to the west by an open, rolling lawn edged by perimeter plantings of native trees and shrubs. The estate was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

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