Robert Bruce Barbour House
Robert Bruce Barbour House is a restored Spanish farmhouse designed by architect James Gamble Rogers II, overlooking the golf course in the heart of Winter Park, Florida. This is one of Rogers' masterpiece residences. In order to save it from destruction, the city of Winter Park moved it to its current location in 2000. Now situated at 656 Park Avenue North in Winter Park, it is known as Casa Feliz (meaning "The Happy House").

History
Here is what architect James Gamble Rogers II says about the creation of this house: "Barbour came along and he had this beautiful lot, you know, on North Interlachen Avenue. Evelyn and I were sitting at home one time and somebody tapped on the door and I went to the door and here were Mr. and Mrs. Barbour, whom I had never met. And he said, “I want to know who your architect was,” and I said well, I was my own... So...Mr.. Barbour said, “I want to know who your architect was,” and I told him that I had designed it myself. He said, “I want you to design me a house, but I don’t want anything like this. I think your house is beautiful, but I don’t want anything like it. He said, “I want a Spanish farmhouse. You may design it anyway you want. I won’t interfere, and if I don’t like it when it’s done, I’ll sell it. I’m not going to interfere with you one bit. You just make me a beautiful Spanish farmhouse.”

Design
Rogers created a gracious residence, with large public rooms. From the entrance hall one may enter either the living room or the library. The living room opens to a garden on one side and a courtyard on the other; the dining room also opens to this courtyard. Along the garden front an arched loggia connects the living room, entrance hall and library. The home also features a dramatically arched porte cochere. The interior of "Casa Feliz" affords the visitor rooms that have been refurbished to their original condition. The living room has a vaulted ceiling with massive hand-hewn beams. The public spaces of the house are the living and dining rooms, library, courtyards and detached garden room (formerly the garage). Typical James Gamble Rogers II details include the majolica-tiled interior courtyard and fountain, arched doorways and a circular staircase. The exterior of "Casa Feliz" and grounds feature rich textures of original Spanish roof tiles and whitewashed century-old bricks, a turret, a bell tower and a heavy timber balcony detailed in colors of the Mediterranean, lush landscaping, intimate courtyards, sweeping oaks and native plants contained by ancient clay amphoras.

Recent history
As noted, originally the house stood at 656 North Interlachen Avenue bordering one of Winter Park's lakes, with this garden front of the house facing the lake. It stood there for about seventy years. Then, a local doctor bought the property and proposed to raze the house and build something bigger, claiming that this house was too small for his needs. It would have been gone forever had not the community raised a hue and cry, as well as the wherewithal to save it. It is now in a peaceful setting overlooking the Winter Park golf course. It is open for tours or to be rented for receptions. On December 31, 2008, it was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places. As of June 2009, the home's former site still sits empty.

Casa Feliz Historic House Museum
The Casa Feliz Historic House Museum is open for tours on Sunday afternoons, and is open for private tours by appointment. A permanent exhibit in the house focuses on the life and works of architect James Gamble Rogers II. The estate has been restored to reflect its original 1930s appearance. The museum hosts periodic concerts and special events, and is available for rental.

Building Activity

  • Georgi Sokolov
    Georgi Sokolov activity.buildings_person.create
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com