It’s hard to visit any neighborhood in the Chicago area without running across at least a few bungalows. Originally used in the Bengal region of South Asia, these homes feature verandas in a low rise structure with one or one and a half stories. The name originated in India, coming from the word bangalo, referring to a house in the Bengal style. The term was first found in English in 1696 describing bungales or hovells in India for English sailors of the East India Company. Later it was used for the spacious homes or official lodgings of officials of the British Raj. The bungalow was a practical choice for India because the overhanging roof provided needed shade and the floor plan was open to allow for the movement of air in the hot climate. Often the doors from the inner rooms were situated to catch the breeze from outside. Until 1906, bungalows were considered summer homes, small cottages by the lake or sea to be used as a retreat.
The first American bungalow was designed by Gibbons Preston at Monument Beach in 1879 on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Bungalow designs showcased structural simplicity with an efficient use of space and understated style. This style of architecture moved to Britain and later America where it initially had high status and exotic connotations, but changed to refer to the large country or suburban homes built in Arts and Crafts or other Western style large cottages. Later, developers began to use the term for smaller houses. A precursor to the current sustainable movement, architects worked with natural materials like indigenous rock, local woods, and metals like copper and iron. The early simplicity movement called for harmony with nature and careful craftsmanship.
The floor plan clusters the public or common areas on one side of the house with two or three bedrooms on the other. The living room flows into the dining room adjacent to the kitchen. Bungalows often have a full basement and are more expensive to build because they take more area than two story homes due to the larger foundation which needs a larger lot size.
Common features include low-pitch roof lines on a gabled roof, wide overhanging eaves with exposed rafters or decorative brackets under the eaves, and a front porch beneath an extension of the main roof. As with ranch homes, Sears Company and The Aladdin Company produced bungalow kits, selling them from catalogs for construction during the turn of the 19th century.
Colonies of bungalows cropped up in the greater New York City area between the 1930s through the 1970s. Used in the Catskill Mountains in the area called the Borscht Belt, the term referred to a cluster of small rental summer homes. The California bungalow was a one-and-a-half story home popular in America from 1910 to 1925. Some popular architects of the California Bungalow are Greene and Greene, Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan.
Chicago bungalows were built between 1910 and 1940. Constructed of brick with decorative accents, one-and-a-half stories and a full basement, this housing style represents nearly one-third of Chicago’s single-family housing stock. A primary difference between Chicago bungalows and other types is gables that are parallel to the street rather than perpendicular. Chicago bungalows are relatively narrow, averaging 20 feet wide on a standard 25-foot wide city lot. The porch may be open or partially enclosed. Similar to Chicago, a large number of homes built in Milwaukee are bungalows, but usually with the gable perpendicular to the street and with white stucco on the lower part of the exterior.
You can find more information about bungalows by visiting these sites: Historic Chicago Bungalow Association, About Home, and The Arts & Crafts Society. Information for this post was taken from these sources.