Talman West Ridge Historic District

From HistoryWiki

Talman West Ridge Historic District

Talman Avenue between Devon Avenue and Pratt Boulevard, 6500 Blocks of Washtenaw Avenue and Fairfield Avenue to the West, 6400 Blocks of Rockwell Street, Maplewood Avenue and Campbell Avenue to the East.

The Talman West Ridge Bungalow District is located in the West Ridge community on the north side of Chicago. Built between 1919 and 1930 by dozens of different architects and builders, the Talman West Ridge Historic District reflects the coming of age of the Chicago Bungalow, when local architects and builders began experimenting with form and stylistic detailing to create bungalows that were unique to Chicago. Bungalow neighborhoods in Chicago like Talman West Ridge offered home buyers more than solid, well-made homes; they made good residential design accessible to middle-class families.

Interest in the residential possibilities of West Ridge began to take hold in the late 1910s, when the Western Avenue streetcar was finally extended north from Lawrence Avenue to Howard Street. Ads for streetcar lines advertised trolley tours through the newest annexed neighborhoods, including West Ridge. With transportation lines in place and an unprecedented demand for new housing after the end of World War I, residential development in the West Ridge area took off in the early 1920s.

Lots were sold to willing developers and builders who, in combination with various architects and contractors, built homes in the subdivision one at a time or in small groups. This pattern of development gave Talman West Ridge a sense of diversity inits housing stock that more rigidly planned bungalow neighborhoods like Schorsch’s Irving Park Gardens lacked. Early building in the area was largely confined to brick two-flats and simple frame, brick and stucco single-family homes. Unlike the Rogers Park community east of Ridge Boulevard, which had evolved into a dense conglomeration of multi-unit apartment buildings served by high capacity rail systems, Talman West Ridge, constrained by the limitations of its single streetcar line, emerged as a primarily single-family residential community. This pattern was set in many communities along the bungalow belt, where relatively low capacity streetcar lines encouraged lower density development than commuter rails.

Henry B. Rance, the son of a British Army officer born in India, returned from his job as a welfare worker during World War I and set up the first real estate office in West Ridge in 1920. The Prudential Realty Company was responsible for much of the commercial development along Devon Avenue and would build many of the larger apartment buildings in the district.

The first bungalow constructed in the district was a stucco and frame Arts and Crafts bungalow built by H. Brown in 1919, and was a fairly sophisticated design for a modest, Craftsman-style home. Bungalows built in the district between 1920 and 1925 featured relatively simple designs with modest architectural detailing. Apartment buildings completed in the district were designed by the same architects and exhibit the same materials, detailing, and floorplans as the surrounding bungalows.

The neighborhood development team of John J. Gubbins and Allan McDonald, whose offices were a half-mile north on the corner of Lunt and Western Avenues, made a more radical departure from the standard bungalow form with their contributions to the district, namely after 1925 with their more complex bungalow designs, featuring multiple rooflines, projecting gables, art glass windows and tile roofs.

In 1929 Daniel Boone Elementary School was completed at 6710 N. Washtenaw Avenue, serving Talman West Ridge and the larger neighborhood. Among the first students at Boone School were George "Mugs" and Virginia Halas, children of George Halas, owner and coach of the Chicago Bears football team, and a founder of the NFL.

The bungalows and two-flats that emerged in Talman West Ridge between 1919 and 1930 allowed working and middle-class, blue- and white-collar families to also share in the American dream of home ownership. For these families, the bungalow provided a thoughtfully designed, solidly built, and thoroughly modern home that was adaptable enough to satisfy the needs and wants of homeowners ranging from the average wage earner to the successful professional. Architects and builders who constructed the bungalows in Talman West Ridge met the considerable challenge of providing a housing type that appealed to a broad spectrum of homeowners.

The variety of bungalows in Talman West Ridge, interspersed with other compatible styles of housing and held within a cohesive frame of uniform setbacks and regularly sized lots, allowed an economically, ethnically, and culturally diverse group of people to assimilate into a uniform American residential fabric.