Touring homes with stories

VOA-sponsored colloquium amps up historic preservation in Winter Park.

Spirits lifted Saturday for preservationists in Winter Park, Florida as bright sunlight graced their tours of seven gorgeous homes. At the eighth annual James Gamble Rogers II Colloquium on Historic Preservation, HGTV’s “Rehab Addict” Nicole Curtis addressed a full house at Tiedke Auditorium in Rollins College on the issue of preservation. The Friends of Casa Feliz and VOA Associates, Inc. were among the sponsors of the talk, and witnessed an audience completely energized by Curtis’ street savvy and humor. Her message, that it is okay to be a preservationist, registered with the enthusiastic audience as it set out on the annual home tour.

The charged up group piled into buses and cars to tour seven authentic old homes: three homes from 1925, bungalows from 1926 and 1928, and finally a 1949 home on Lake Fawcett. During the visits, they saw firsthand the themes Curtis had explored: a sense of place, storied past and beauty that arises from the human scale and idiosyncratic details of these homes as well as the home’s relationship to its climate, owners and era.

Lakeside homes, situated under beautiful old oaks served as conversational settings about quality, craftsmanship and authenticity inspired by Curtis. She pointed out that components of older homes were largely “made in America,” in contrast to contemporary homes, and this resonated with more than one audience member. Craftsmanship, seen in hand-built windows and doors, was clearly evident in the homes from the 1920s.

While Curtis’ talk was inspiring, it was also street-smart. No doctoral degree was needed to convey her passion for the hand-turned posts, carved wood, forged brass hardware, and the other unique details that make these turn-of-the-century  homes so special. Her show embodies the principle that the original design should be honored and respected when modernizing these homes in the twenty-first century. Connecting with this multigenerational audience, Curtis galvanized those whose preservation instincts are already good, and converted others to the cause.

Photos by Richard Reep

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