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Photo by: Sarah Wilson - A home designed by James Gamble Rogers II will be open to the public for the first time during the James Gamble Rogers II Colloquium this weekend.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 5 years ago

Tour of Winter Park's architectural history

City's best designs
by: Sarah Wilson Staff Writer

In the 82 years since it was built, many a notable Winter Park person has stepped through the black, twisted wrought-iron gate, up the cobblestone drive past the sweet-smelling blooms of citrus and floral trees to the James Gamble Rogers II-designed home off Webster Avenue.

Originally built for Bach Festival Society founder Isabelle Sprague Smith, the Spanish-style home will open its doors to the public for the first time as part of the James Gamble Rogers II Colloquium on Historic Preservation’s Tour of Homes April 6.

Original hardwood floors creak underfoot leading through arched entryways and plaster-walled halls of the historic downtown Winter Park home – currently on the market for $2.75 million.

This home, along with five others featured in this year’s Friends of Casa Feliz-presented Tour of Homes, uses its individual design style to represent the 2013 tour theme: “Good Design Through the Ages.”

“These houses represent a number of different styles which were widely used here in this climate and this country between the 1930s and the twentieth century,” architect and founder of Friends of Casa Feliz, John “Jack” Rogers, said.

For more information and to register for the Colloquium, which runs April 5-7, visit

“They speak to the importance of interior and exterior spaces, recognizing that architects not only design from a floor plan, but use objectives to design around their vision of the interior and exterior of the space represented.”

In each of the homes, from 1930 James Gamble Rogers II designs with walls of French doors blending the outdoors in to a 2011 Phil Kean-designed home, which seamlessly flows indoors out, Rogers said they encapsulate the meaning of “good” design.

Betsy Owens, Casa Feliz’s executive director and daughter of Jack Rogers, said each of the featured homes was chosen based on its noteworthy design elements, whether that be sustainability, an expansive courtyard, or details rooted in colonial-revival styles.

The homes range in construction from the 1930s to 2011, each one offering its own flair of exceptional design, Owens said.

“Each of the houses is really special in different ways,” Owens said. “… But they’re all unified by being very architecturally significant.”

Owens said many of the homes on the tour have never been open to public tours, giving Colloquium attendees a rare look inside some of Winter Park’s most significant homes.

Design experts will guide the home tours along the way explaining – as this year’s Colloquium’s overall theme questions – ‘why architecture matters.’

The keynote speaker, Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger, will headline to Colloquium, running April 5-7. Goldberger’s book “Why Architecture Matters” lends its theme to the weekend.

“It’s a real interesting combination of people talking about what makes good design,” Owens said. “Why you look at some buildings and say that’s pleasing to the eye, and other’s you think are monstrosities. … it all comes down to design.”

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