by Hank Morris
The majority of Chicago Bungalows were built between 1910 and 1940. They were typically constructed from brick (sometimes in decorative patterns) and had one and a half stories. It’s been said that, at one point, nearly a third of the houses in the Chicago area were bungalows. Like many other local homes, Chicago bungalows are relatively narrow, being an average of 20 feet wide on a standard 25-foot wide city lot.
A Chicago-style bungalow has a low-pitched roof and horizontal shape. In most bungalows, however, the older gable-front of the cottages was replaced with a “hipped” roof, meaning that the gable was slipped off and the front pitched down toward the street, often with a dormer. The resulting large overhang, in many cases, allowed for the incorporation of a large front porch or enclosed sunroom.
Many Bungalows in and near Chicago often included leaded glass windows, natural woodwork, ceramic tile, and other Craftsman details such as built-in cabinets, shelves, and seats. Floor plans were often identical with the public spaces—living, dining and kitchen—on one side of the building and small bedrooms on the other. With the living room at the center, the rest of the rooms connect without hallways.
The Chicago Bungalow was closely related to the standard two- or three-flat which was really conceptually just two or three bungalows piled on top of each other. There were also much more elaborate bungalows with considerably more sophisticated floor plans.
Launched by Mayor Richard M. Daley in September of 2000, the Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative is designed to foster an appreciation of the Chicago Bungalow as a distinctive housing type, encourage sympathetic rehabilitation of Chicago bungalows, and assist bungalow owners with adapting their homes to current needs, which in turn helps to strengthen Chicago bungalow neighborhoods.
The Historic Chicago Bungalow Association (http://www.chicagobungalow.org) is the non-profit organization that administers the Initiative. The program offers a variety of financial resources, from grants to loans, and technical resources, from special permit assistance to “how-to” seminars. Certifying your bungalow with the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association is the first step in accessing these financial incentives and benefits.
In 2001, the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society conducted a house tour entitled “The Bungalows of West Ridge.” And in 2003, we held a house walk entitled “Historic Bungalows in West Rogers Park.” Several other house tours have included bungalows, but not exclusively. These tour booklets will be found on this website, shortly.