Casa Feliz was saved and restored with a combination of private funds and a state grant. When the property was first threatened, a “friends” group was formed to raise funds. Thanks to endangered eagles nesting right next door to the property, there was time to “battle plan” and fundraise while waiting for the baby eagles to fledge. Time and local passion was on our side as we (optimistically but correctly as it turned out) insisted that the house could be moved and successfully operated. Money was raised through direct solicitation, tee shirt, hat, card and brick sales (bricks with a Casa Feliz plaque). Those funds were used as a match to request a Special Category grant from the state Division of Historical Resources. The son of the original architect who is an architect is his own right, Jack Rogers, offered his services for free to coordinate the restoration and he also sought donated engineering and other services. A local contractor, Frank Roark, donated his services for the project. As it always happens, the restoration cost more than initially thought so private fundraising continued along with an awareness campaign and celebrations for the move and initial restoration. The city contributed the unused land by the city-owned golf course for a new site that would be an appropriate setting. The city paid legal fees, and some costs associated with halting the demolition and coordinating the road closure for the move of the house. As the city preservation planner, I could contribute my time to write and administer the grant. The city initially managed the donated funds and the grant, however the non-profit Friends of Casa Feliz now has an agreement with the city to manage the building with no financial assistance. Costs are covered by allowing the house to be rented as a facility for modest size social events. Weddings are very popular. Private fund and friend raising continues as the board would like to reduce the number of rental events and increase the public hours to visit the house. I think of preservation as always having to swim upstream, but it’s worth the effort!
Lindsey Hayes, AICP, Senior Planner, City of Winter Park