LAKE WALES, Fla. – Each year during the holiday season, a Polk county mansion decks its halls and welcomes thousands of tourists and locals to enjoy the magic of Christmas.
Pinewood Estate, a 20-bedroom Mediterranean revival style mansion, is located at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.
“The theme this year is the beauty of nature surrounds us,” director of marketing Erica Smith said. “You’re gonna see elements of nature in every single room. Woodland creatures, to beautiful birds to even succulents and air plants that we have here at Bok Tower Gardens.”
Pinewood Estate is considered the holiday jewel of the national historic landmark in Lake Wales.
For the past 25 years, the mansion has been bringing the Christmas spirit to life. All 20 rooms have a separate theme.
For example, one room is decorated like A White Christmas and another bedroom is the Fairies, Elves and Flights of Fantasy room.
More than 20 Christmas trees are set up throughout the mansion, as well as dozens of handmade wreaths, and other holiday decor.
“There’s at least one tree in most of the rooms and some rooms even feature two or three,” Smith said.
In the formal dining room, a Christmas tree takes a new form, this time like a pineapple. The fruit symbolizes hospitality.
This year, the dining room highlights Polk County’s roots -- citrus.
“Oranges have always been a traditional symbol of Christmas. They were given in stockings, and you would ship fruit to your northern relatives up north,” Smith said.
In the living room, which is also know as the music room, you’ll find the tallest Christmas tree in the mansion. The tree stands at 14 feet tall.
“The designers really wanted to bring in the colors of Christmas. So you see the red and the green and a little bit of fun and whimsy with elves,” Smith said.
The peacock room is called Loggia and it is adjacent to the gardens.
“There were peacocks on the property, and so this room is really kind of a call back to the birds,” Smith said. “These doors actually slide, they’re pocket doors and what we can see right out here is this beautiful fountain, this is called the frog fountain, it was imported from Cuba in the early ’30s.”
During the tour, visitors learn interesting and unique details about the estate. One detail is right beneath your feet.
Decorators said a stair case inside the mansion has a different tile pattern on each step -- these tiles are seen throughout the building.
"What you will see are the beautiful Tunisian tiles, all hand painted tiles, beautiful clay tiles from Cuba. Every room in the mansion really is an architectural, you know, spotlight. It's really a unique piece of architecture," Smith said.
The estate was built in 1932 by Charles Austin Buck, of Pennsylvania. He was a chemist and vice president of Bethlehem Steel.
“He would procure the materials needed to make steel and during WWII, he was very instrumental in making sure that we (had) the steel we needed to build the warships for WWII,” Smith said. “This is the original vacation home; they only used the home for about six weeks in the winter.”
The estate was purchased by Bok Tower Gardens in the 1970s and since then it’s provided tours throughout the year.