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Bricks into gems

Chicago's neighborhoods are filled with bungalows. Now they're getting their due.

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Bill Faude and his wife, Julie Michaelson, bought a bungalow on Chicago's North Side nearly three years ago because they liked the sturdy brick home, its surprising spaciousness, and the craftsmanship evident throughout the house.

What they have since realized is that they also purchased a piece of Chicago history. "This is kind of Chicago's signature home," Mr. Faude says.

In this city of first-rate architecture, some of the world's tallest buildings, and a history that includes great architects such as Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, and Frank Lloyd Wright, the humble bungalow is finally getting its due.

While a bungalow is generally defined as a small house or cottage, and styles vary around the United States, most Chicago bungalows have certain distinctive features. They are 1-1/2-story brick structures with pitched, overhanging roofs, sheltered entrances, full basements, and sun porches or living rooms in the front.

The first floor of a bungalow has roughly 1,200 square feet, with a living room, dining room, kitchen, and three bedrooms. But because bungalows have full basements and small attics, usable square footage can double if the storage space is converted into rooms.

Designed in the Arts and Crafts style, the homes contain prominent detailed windows, intricate woodwork, and Art Deco details throughout.

"They have a lot of innate qualities that are worth appreciating," says Charles Shanabruch, executive director of the Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative, a city-run program intended to help preserve the distinctive houses. "They have a lot more character than what people would find in a tract home."

"They are so much head and shoulders above the craftsmanship you're going to find in a new, middle-class house," says Paul Duchscherer, an interior design consultant in San Francisco who has written three books on bungalows. "They just ooze charm and character."

The bungalow belt
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