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A Brief History

Over the past seven months, we’ve looked at dozens of turn-of-the-century (that’s early twentieth century) houses of all sizes and styles. For example, we’ve visited homes in the architectural style of Victorian, Cape Cod, farmhouse, Georgian, ranch, split-level ranch, raised bungalow, and bungalow.

Along the way we’ve learned about the features common to each house style—the porches, columns, rooflines, plaster walls, stairwells, etc.—but it’s the bungalow, also known as the Craftsman home or an Arts and Crafts home, about which we’ve (obviously) learned the most. So for those unfamiliar with the bungalow, which has a strong history in the Chicago area, here’s a rundown:

  • Originally called a banggolo or bangala and shaped like an overturned ship (curved roof that extended nearly all the way to the ground), the bungalow derives from Bengali, India.
  • As the British colonized India they adopted the banggolo, changing the name to bungalow and making some modifications: they added a verandah (from the Hindi word varanda) or a wraparound porch, hipped roofs, wooden doors, and glass-paned windows.
  • In the early 1900s the bungalow exploded in America, becoming a national phenomenon in every part of the country that encountered population growth in the 1910s and 1920s.
  • American Bungalows could built for as little as $900 before WWI; as a result, they helped many Americans fulfill their wish of owning a home.
  • The American bungalow’s simple lines allowed for easy and fast construction, which led to precut “kit homes” that could be shipped anywhere near a railway. (See advertisement below in which one can order a bungalow from Sears Roebuck and Company.)
  • Despite its pre-made design and shipping methods, the American bungalow marked a rare occasion in which serious architecture was found outside the realm of the rich.
  • American Bungalows usually came with fruit trees and a vegetable garden to supply food for the family table.
  • American Bungalows were equipped with the latest conveniences and they introduced “the breakfast nook,” slide-out cutting boards, deep bin drawers, telephone niches, and foldout ironing boards.

Sources

Chicago Architecture Foundation. The Chicago Bungalow. Chicago: Arcadia, 2001.

Duchscherer and Douglas Keister. Bungalow Basics: Kitchens. San Francisco, Pomegranite, 2004.

Powell, Jane and Linda Svendsen. Bungalow: The Ultimate Arts and Crafts Home. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2004.

Winter, Robert and Alexander Vertikoff. American Bungalow Style. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.