by Bruce Johnson
Known to everyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting him as “Bungalow Bob,” the esteemed architectural historian Robert Winter passed away on Saturday, February 9 at the age of 94.
Robert Winter was among a handful of college professors who in the early 1970s recognized and publicized the significance of the nearly forgotten Arts and Crafts movement. Robert wrote and co-authored several books drawing attention to the contributions the Arts and Crafts movement had made to Southern California and the bungalow style.
He lived in a classic California bungalow that had once been the home of the revered tile maker Ernest Batchelder, whose first kiln was built in the backyard. Robert’s door was always open to friends and curious onlookers who often stood on the sidewalk to take pictures of his beloved house. In Bob’s typical fashion, he would often walk out to greet them and invite him inside for a tour of his home. In 1999 he wrote the definitive book on Ernest Batchelder called “Batchelder Tilemaker.”
Among the many honors bestowed upon Robert was the Arts and Crafts Lifetime Achievement Award presented at the National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn, as well as being named a Fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians.
Robert appeared several times at the National Arts and Crafts Conference. Once as a seminar speaker he requested that a piano be brought into the Grand Ballroom. At the close of his remarks, Bob signaled to a friend to take a seat at the piano. With a huge smile, Bob stepped to center stage and sang the now-famous “Bungalow Song,” which became his signature closing in subsequent return visits to the conference podium.
Vonda Givens, executive director of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms added, “In my first year at the conference, 2008, Bob was a speaker. I had been on the job for two weeks and the conference was an overwhelming experience in many ways. I vividly remember Bob’s lecture, but really more his singing with the audience. His warmth and charisma were remarkable. That experience left a profound mark on me and I’ve never forgotten it. I felt like I was at a tent revival back in Tennessee. It was familiar and funny and really wonderful. Bob will be missed by all of us who had the joy of being in his presence.”
While Robert will be missed by his friends and colleagues, his influence will not be lost, as his prolific output of books continues to educate and inspire a new generation of Arts and Crafts enthusiasts.
– Bruce Johnson