There are no majestic iron gates with invented coats of arms to greet you, no waterfalls of expensive and rare marble, and the guard on duty is actually pleasant. What you see at the main entry gate is more ‘country equestrian’ than ‘country club’. How can this be? Windsor, a community securely anchored in bait-n-tackle, Wabasso, Florida (near Vero Beach) is home to some of the wealthiest and most famous patricians in the world.
As incongruous as Windsor’s salt-of-the-earth surroundings are to its exalted residents, so too is its actual, uncomplicated architectural design and layout, to the over the top exaggerations that are expected of such an illustrious community.
We were thrilled to be involved in a recent walking tour of Windsor with members of Florida chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture in Classical America (ICA CA).
Windsor was founded in the late 1980’s by the Canadian Weston family, a name all Canadians know from that family’s hotel fame. Presumably chilled by long winters, they found the warmth of Florida inviting and the virgin land of that part of Vero Beach ripe for the picking.
The architects and planners they hired had a vision of this new development that would set it apart from the standard, over the top, playgrounds for the rich and famous. It called for a different kind of luxury and urban planning, and relied on the idea of ‘new urbanism’. The architects created homes and public buildings that eschewed ornate embellishments in deference to the simple architectural pleasures of lines and curves.
Windsor’s single family homes have a hard time playing the game of keeping-up-with-the-Jones as they are all designed with very similar features. The stucco walls are painted neutral or soft pastel, every building has shutters, roof choices are wood shingle or metal, all homes have front balconies usually covered with beautiful bougainvillea.
According to architect Scott Merrill, the founders wanted any hint of excess and high traditions to be avoided at Windsor. The importance of simple beauty, scale and proportion were far more important than dripping details.
Even the landscaping is minimalist, preferring a natural flow to an overly manicured appearance. The village has a golf course, but even that is not so perfect, and it intentionally does not govern the growth or form of the community. Can anyone say The Fountainhead?
The development is set up like a village with public buildings for different purposes, roads of various widths and finishes and a easy ‘walkability’ that is sadly missing in most towns and cities in Florida.
Windsor’s simplicity is precisely its charm and a major draw for its sophisticated, globe trotting, residents.
For one day the members of the ICA CA were allowed to drink at the well of such an impressive community. Here are pictures of some of the ICA CA group and shots of this beautiful community.