Winter Comes for Local Architectural Historian, Writer "Bungalow Bob"

Published : Tuesday, February 12, 2019 | 11:20 AM

[Updated] Pasadena native Robert Winter, who told a Southern California story deciphered through its buildings, died Feb. 9. He was 94.

In a statement released Feb. 12, Pasadena Heritage said it mourned Winter’s loss, calling him a “guiding light and preservation hero. He will be incomparably missed.”

Winter was an architectural historian best known for “An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles” in 1965. The book, a mainstay in architectural libraries, at least locally, was co-written with David Gebhard.

Winter could be said to have “walked the walk” – if architects are given to such valuations – in that he wrote expertly on Arts and Craft architecture and lived in the 1909 home of tilemaker Ernest Batchelder, a standout practitioner of the style.

“Bungalow Bob,” as he was known to his friends, boasted a blue chip resume that belied his woodsy nickname.

The Blinn House, which hosts an annual Dr. Robert Winter Award Champagne Brunch, has compiled a small curriculum vitae the includes: an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College; a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University; and the Arthur G. Coons Professor of the History of Ideas, Emeritus, Occidental College.

He was a Fellow to the International Society of Architectural Historians and, more importantly, a member of the City of Pasadena’s Cultural Heritage Commission.

In addition to the aforementioned, “Architectural Guidebook…” Winter wrote and published “The California Bungalow,” “American Bungalow Style,” and “Batchelder Tilemaker.”

The latter is the definitive biography of the craftsman. Winter also curated an exhibition of the same name at the Pasadena Museum of History.

“While we will sadly miss his wit and warmth, Dr. Winter’s spirit and scholarship will remain an enduring presence here at PHM, most concretely through the legacy gift of his personal collection of Batchelder tile and accompanying archives, which he presented to the museum in 2015, said Jeannette O’Malley, the museum’s executive director.

Said Pasadena Heritage: “His many books on architectural history, especially the Craftsman Movement, and his famous guides to architecture in Los Angeles and other cities across the country have served as key resources for historians, locals and visitors alike, for decades.”

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