Casa Feliz, or "Happy House" in Spanish, is the signature residential work of noted architect James Gamble Rogers II. Initially known as the Barbour Estate, this Andalusian-style masonry farmhouse has significantly influenced the architectural and cultural aspects of this community. In 1932, when Massachusetts industrialist Robert Bruce Barbour commissioned Rogers to design a home on the shore of Lake Osceola, the young architect described it as a "dream come true." Barbour offered Rogers unheard-of freedom for an architect; "Design it any way you like. If I don't like it, I'll sell it." Thus, perhaps more than any of Rogers' buildings, Casa Feliz bears his imprimatur. Built during the Great Depression for a cost of $28,000, the house was Rogers' only project at the time. He set up his drawing board on site, rolling up his shirt sleeves to help with the carpentry and masonry.
Barbour loved the resulting house, as did the Winter Park community which cherished the home as the crown jewel in this "City of Homes" over the next 70 years. Community members rallied around the house in the year 2000, when the property faced the threat of demolition. More than $1.2 million was raised in private donations to save and restore the home. The first step was to move the house across Interlachen Avenue to its present location on the Winter Park Golf Course. The event became a media spectacle, as the 750 ton behemoth, balanced on 20 pneumatically leveled dollies, rode the 300 yards to its new home. Once the house was positioned in its new location, restoration began. Highly skilled craftsmen and artisans worked to restore the house to its original design. Copies of Rogers' original drawings and interior photographs taken in the 1930s by Harold Haliday Costain were used to ensure authenticity.
Today, Casa serves the community as a historic home museum and rental location for private parties, weddings, and business events. Come visit during our public open houses--each Sunday from 12-3, and Tuesday and Thursday from 10-12. Private tours of 10 or more guests can be arranged by calling 407.628.8200.
photos by Harold Haliday Costain