Robert Bruce Barbour House
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Casa Feliz Historic Home
|Location||Winter Park, Florida, USA|
|Architect||James Gamble Rogers II|
|NRHP reference #||08001244|
|Added to NRHP||December 31, 2008|
The Robert Bruce Barbour House, also known as Casa Feliz (Happy 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' best-known residences. In 2000 order to save it from destruction, the city of Winter Park moved it to its current location at 656 Park Avenue North in Winter Park. On April 18, 2012, the AIA's Florida Chapter placed it on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places as Casa Feliz / Formerly Robert Bruce Barbour Estate.
Here is what architect James Gamble Rogers II (1867 — 1947) 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."
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.
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.
Casa Feliz Historic House Museum
The Casa Feliz historic house museum is open for live music and 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 and serves as a Winter Park and Orlando wedding venue. The museum hosts periodic concerts and special events, and is available for rental.
- "Weekly List Of Actions Taken On Properties: 12/29/08 through 1/02/09". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-01-09.
- Winter Park Historical Trail
- Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum
- Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places
- Casa Feliz Historic House Museum - official site