CURRENT HISTORIC BUNGALOW DISTRICTS

All Along the Bungalow Belt

Districts are numbered by date, in the order they were added to the National Register of Historic Places. Use the menu on the right to learn more about individual districts.

 

Hermosa

December 31, 2018

 

The Hermosa Bungalow Historic District is located in Community Area 20 on the northwest side of Chicago, approximately 6 miles from the city’s commercial center. The district is roughly bounded by W. Belmont Avenue to the north, N. Lowell Avenue to the east, W. Diversey Avenue to the south, and N. Kolmar Avenue to the west.

 

The area known as Hermosa originally consisted of a tract of land between Fullerton, North, Pulaski, and Cicero Avenues. The first settlers were primarily Scotch immigrants who settled in the northern part of the territory in the 1870s and named their farming settlement “Kelvyn Grove” after the Eighth Lord Kelvyn of Scotland. Some German and Scandinavian farmers came to the area shortly afterward, setting up their farms around Armitage and Kenton Avenues. A public school was built as early as 1874, and by 1878, the parents finally had a tavern hotel to frequent at North and Grand Avenues—the first of many.

 

The largest subdivision was named after James A. Garfield, well known to Chicagoans both for securing the nomination for President of the United States at the 1880 Republican National Convention in Chicago, then for being shot and killed just four months after his inauguration. Two years after the convention, he had a piece of what is now Hermosa named after him that was situated on the southwest quarter of Section 34 of Jefferson Township. The first house was built in Garfield that same year in 1882, and by 1884, there were about thirty houses and fifty people in the area. The name “Hermosa,” which means “beautiful” in Spanish, supposedly came from the Secretary to the Superintendent of the CM&StP Railway (the old Chicago & Pacific Railway). The community grew to include the settlements of Pacific and Kelvyn Grove as well.

 

Hermosa was annexed by Chicago in 1889, though little changed as a result. There were some needed municipal services added, some street paving, a number of churches were founded, and the remainder of the 19th century was mostly characterized by the construction of simple worker’s cottages. But this sleepy period came to an end when, beginning in 1907, streetcar lines running along North, Armitage, and Fullerton Avenues were extended to Hermosa. The Hermosa Improvement Association was organized in 1912 to make needed improvements and create a Hermosa Park. The population grew to 15,000 by 1920, and single-family homes—many Chicago bungalows—boomed in the 1920s.

 

Germans and Scandinavians, Poles and Austrians made up the bulk of the population of Hermosa in the 1920s. The area known as Kelvyn Park—a once sparsely inhabited area north of Fullerton Avenue and east of Kilbourn Avenue—flooded with bungalows and two-flats. The area south of this area also saw an influx of bungalows, two-flats, three-flats and small apartment buildings.  Industrial development continued during these years—a convenient location as Hermosa is surrounded on three sides by railroad tracks—and the tracks and industrial buildings resulted in many dead-end streets that created a strong community and stabilizing effect as the decades wore on.

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Brainerd

January 06, 2017

 

The Brainerd Bungalow Historic District is located in Community Area 73 on the southwest side of Chicago in the Washington Heights community, approximately 14 miles from the city’s commercial center. Brick Chicago bungalows form the bulk of the district, accounting for 505 of the 528 total contributing primary structures, making it the second largest bungalow historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Brainerd Park and Fort Dearborn Elementary School, two historic centerpieces of the community, are also included in the district. The primary era of development in the district was between 1915 and 1931, with 1927 marking the peak of construction.

The area that is now Washington Heights was predominantly farmland from the 1830s to 1860s and referred to as North Blue Island when John Blackstone purchased his 9,000 acres in 1839 from what is currently 91st to 115th between Halsted Street and Western Avenue. A tribe of Potawatomi Indians remained in the area until a treaty devised by the U.S. government forced them to leave in 1844 and move to Kansas and Oklahoma. By 1874, the larger Washington Heights community had enough residents to incorporate, and in 1890, Washington Heights and Brainerd were annexed to the city of Chicago.

The development of the Brainerd neighborhood in the 1910s and 1920s was characterized by the rise and enormous popularity of Chicago bungalow neighborhoods between 1907 and the early 1930s. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, Chicago’s population doubled as an additional 1.5 million residents settled into the city. The tens of thousands of one-and-one-half story brick bungalows built in the city’s outlying neighborhoods during this time stood at the forefront of the expansion of single-family homeownership. Built together, many times in entire blocks to form a veritable belt around the center city, the unprecedented form of the Chicago bungalow created an entirely novel form of Chicago urbanism.

As with many neighborhoods in Chicago, Brainerd experienced white flight in the1960s, and 2/3rds of white residents left Washington Heights. African Americans had previously been forced to live in certain cramped pockets of the city and finally were able to spread out into other areas of the city to look for better homes and jobs. In fact, 25,000 African Americans moved into the neighborhood during this decade—young families replacing the older white residents who had already raised their children in the previous decades. By 1980, almost all of the white residents had left, but the population level remained relatively stable. The 1990s was the first time the neighborhood had seen a population drop, but the number of residents still remained high at 32,000—higher than it had ever been when only white residents of European descent European residents dominated the neighborhood.

During the 2000s the neighborhood has shown a decline in terms of median household income, but is still rich with history and community. An abandoned railroad line that ran along the southwestern edge of the community was acquired by the Chicago Park District and converted into the Major Taylor Trail in 2007, connecting six neighborhoods and crossing the Calumet River and I-57. Washington Heights also boasts the Woodson Regional Branch of the Chicago Public Library at 95th and Halsted. Woodsen houses the extraordinary Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, the largest African American history and literature collection in the Midwest, which documents the black experience with a strong focus on Chicago.

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Portage Park

September 17, 2014

 

The Portage Park Bungalow Historic District is located in the north central portion of the Portage Park community area, on the northwest side of Chicago. Brick Chicago bungalows form the bulk of the district, accounting for 189 of the 225 total structures. The primary era of development in the district was between 1920 and 1930, with 1923 and 1924 being the peak building years.

The area now known as Portage Park formally became part of Chicago when Jefferson Township was annexed in 1889. Even at this time, Portage Park was mostly farm and prairie land with a few settlements, its residents primarily of German, English, and Swedish descent.

By the 1920s, with expanded transportation lines and construction of Portage Park and Portage Park Elementary School, residential, industrial, and commercial construction in the area quickly increased, particularly in the vicinity of the park, where the Portage Park Bungalow Historic District is located.

In 1920, the overall population was predominantly Lutheran or Catholic, and white, foreign-born residents comprised 26% of the Portage Park population. In the next ten years, the German, Polish, and Italian populations increased significantly, while the Scandinavian population decreased. District residents worked predominantly in blue-collar positions, with the majority working in building trades (carpenter, plasterer, bricklayer, etc), industry (toolmaker, laborer, tinner, repairman, etc), or other service positions (plumber, janitor, butcher, etc). Roughly 10% of the residents worked in “professional” sectors – as executives, bankers, engineers, superintendents, and even one dairy manager. Most bungalows in the district cost between $5,000 and $6,500, which would have been a manageable sum for working class families moving to Portage Park. Population in Portage Park rose drastically between 1920 and 1930, from 24,439 residents to 64,203.

Today, Portage Park continues to remain a stable residential community. Residents in the district have an appreciation of and pride in their neighborhood’s history, diverse population, and cohesive architecture. That the district’s bungalows maintain such high levels of historic and architectural integrity demonstrates the attention and care Portage Park residents give their homes.

 
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Auburn Gresham

October 09, 2012

 

The Auburn Gresham Bungalow Historic District is located in Community Area 71 on the southwest side of Chicago, approximately nine miles from the Loop. The land, which had previously been unoccupied or used for agricultural purposes, was purchased by developers in 1890 and part of a subdivision called Dewey and Vance. The arrival of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, and access to the Vincennes Road—formerly the Hubbard Trail, which was used as a trading route with American Indians—caught the attention of developers and those who wanted to move away from the center of downtown, but still have access to it.

Street cars also were important to the development of this community, especially the southernmost part. A street car line came to 79th and Halsted sometime around 1900, and to Vincennes around 1905. These street cars existed even before the streets were paved. There was originally an “extra fare” to travel past 79th Street, but residents in what were then the neighborhoods of Brainerd, Washington Heights, and South Englewood combined efforts to fight for a single fair. They adopted “One City, One Fare” as their slogan and eventually got their way, possibly around 1910, no doubt bringing more people into their neighborhoods.

The brick Chicago bungalows that took over the Auburn Gresham Historic District in the 1920s reflect Chicago’s booming growth during the first three decades of the century, and the need to construct affordable housing in neighborhoods further away from the downtown area. While many parts of the city responded either with luxury high-rise apartments or, at the other end of the spectrum, blocks of tenement housing, these new districts of single-family homes provided an alternative, accessible form of living for the existing middle classes and new populations of immigrants seeking the American dream. Between 1910 and 1930 Chicago developers built tens of thousands of one and one-and-one-half-story brick bungalows on large tracts of land, and real estate agents began appealing directly to apartment house residents declaring that for the amount they were paying in rent, they could actually own a home. Many who moved to Auburn Gresham migrated from the working-class neighborhoods of Bridgeport, Canaryville, Back of the Yards, and Englewood, and moved here to grow and raise their families.

The first Chicago bungalow in the Auburn Gresham Historic District sprouted up in 1918, but building moved at a trickling pace in the 1910s, with a scattered roster of homeowners hiring a handful of architects like E. Braucher, Lund, W. Hooper, and J. Reynertson. The mid to late 1920s—peaking at around 1927—saw a steady stream of building and rapid, larger scale development, and it was not until the collapse of the home building market and the onset of the Great Depression that bungalow construction quickly tapered. The fact that so much of the district came to exist in a matter of just a few years has created an even more cohesive effect in terms of building style and materials. Building in Auburn Gresham began to rebound in the 1940s, and even homes built outside of the period of significance (post-1932), such as ranches and Cap Cods, have similar massing and setbacks, maintaining the rhythm of the streetscapes with their neighboring Chicago bungalows.

 
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West Chatham

April 19, 2010

 

Originally an uninhabited swampy area of South Chicago, West Chatham began to flourish as a bungalow neighborhood in the 1920’s. During the first three decades of the 20th century Chicago’s South Side experienced a rapid growth of working class residents. After the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition the South Side became a desirable area to live in with it’s proximity to Jackson Park (former site of the 1893 exposition) and the Illinois Central Railroad which supplied many jobs to the area at the time. Both played significant roles in making the South Side a desirable area for not just the middle class but also the wealthy, especially after the construction of the South Shore Country Club. With a playground for the wealthy and a booming industry for the middle class the South Side became a very desirable residential neighborhood.

The boundaries of West Chatham are West 79th to the north, South Perry Avenue to the east, 82nd Street to the south and South Stewart Avenue to the west. Within these boundaries are 347 buildings, 281 of which are Chicago Bungalows built between 1914 and 1930. There are also 39 multi-family units most of which are brick 2 flats. Unlike many other neighborhoods in Chicago, West Chatham is a district made up of mostly single family units that catered to the rising population of working class people and incoming immigrants seeking the American dream.

The development of West Chatham was part of the natural progression of growth in the South Side. With the main draw being the industrial boom in industries such as steel and the import/export industry. Wentworth Avenue, with its wide median at 79th and 82nd, was the location of the spur-track connection for the Chicago Surface rail lines (CSL) and later the location of its successor the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). This area of Wentworth Avenue was once used to accept inbound shipments of transit supplies, streetcars, and some buses. The spur at 79th also connected the shops along Wentworth with Western Indiana Railway south of 83rd street. Streetcars ran up and down this major thoroughfair until 1958 when they were discontinued. The track remained intact until the late early 1980’s when it was removed entirely. Having industries such as the Chicago’s CSL/CTA was one of the many desirable reasons to live in West Chatham.

In many bungalow neighborhoods there is often a major contributing architect who gives each neighborhood its own unique stamp. West Chatham was no different. Ernest Braucher was the architect for roughly a third of the Chicago Bungalows built in the West Chatham neighborhood, while F.A. Fielder brought an Art Deco twist, which set S. Yale Avenue apart from the rest of West Chatham. Some distinctive features of the bungalows built in this neighborhood are flat or polygonal bays with side entrances, low-pitched, hipped roofs, and brick and limestone detailing on the facades. Bungalows constructed toward the end of the building boom in the mid 1920s show more elaborate brick detailing and patterning than the earlier bungalows built in the area.

 
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Talman West Ridge

December 10, 2008

 

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 1910’s, 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 in its 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 Western Avenue, 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 1 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 North Washtenaw, serving Talman West Ridge and the larger neighborhood. Among the first students at Boone School were George “Mugs” and Virginia Halas, children of George Stanley “Papa Bear” 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 homeownership. 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.

 
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South Shore

December 10, 2008

 

The community area known as South Shore was originally a handful of small settlements in the southern portion of Hyde Park Township. Steel mill workers drawn to the area by the Illinois Central Railroad, which had established numerous stations on the eastern and southern boundaries of Jackson Park, primarily inhabited these communities, including Essex, Bryn Mawr, Parkside, Cheltenham Beach, and Windsor Park. Proximity to the lakeshore and to Jackson Park, the site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, “prompted the sale of land and building lots and a subsequent housing explosion” in these small communities and by 1889 Hyde Park Township was annexed by the city of Chicago.

In 1905, a fashionable neighborhood located between 67th and 71st Streets was developed and named Jackson Park Highlands. The neighborhood attracted new residents from Washington Park. These residents, many of whom had been affiliated with the privileged Washington Park Club, founded the South Shore Country Club, “a posh 67-acre lakeside playground”. This Club, founded in 1907, became one of the most exclusive locations in the city. Built between 1911 and 1930 (the years of construction for the first and last bungalows in the district), the South Shore Bungalow Historic District reflects the transition between antecedent bungalow forms and the true Chicago bungalow form.

With its boundaries located between 75th and 79th Streets and Jeffrey and Yates Avenues the South Shore district is comprised of a total of 318 primary structures, including 229 of which are Chicago bungalows. Located approximately one mile west of Lake Michigan and one mile south of Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the South Shore community developed significantly earlier than most areas within Chicago’s bungalow belt. Approximately half of the homes within the district were constructed before 1920. All of the homes were developed singly or in small groups by over 35 different architects. Consistent with most other Chicago bungalow neighborhoods, the growth and development of the South Shore district maintained a uniform scale and cohesiveness, despite the variety of architects and developers.

The cost of constructing a bungalow in South Shore ranged from $1,800 for a simple stucco bungalow to over $10,000 for an elaborate brick bungalow. A wide price range that helped to accommodate the broad income gaps moving to the neighborhood at the time. With newly available financing options, working class families could buy a solidly built, well-designed brick bungalow in a clean, safe, new residential neighborhood for a few hundred dollars down and $20 monthly payments. The initial residents of the community, particularly the Jackson Park Highlands neighborhood, were Protestants of European decent. Beginning in the 1920s, the population began to change as numerous Irish Catholics, Germans, and Russians moved to the neighborhood from nearby Washington Park.

The bungalows in the South Shore bungalow district share common features—low-pitched roofs with overhanging eaves, banded or grouped windows, decorative brickwork and limestone detailing—that emphasizes the horizontality and ties the buildings to the landscape around them. Builders also applied this bungalow template to brick apartment buildings in the South Shore district. Two-flat apartment buildings shared many common elements with the surrounding bungalows, including squared or polygonal front window bays, recessed corner or side entryways, and limestone details. With its mixture of frame, stucco, and brick structures, the South Shore district exhibits a natural variety of forms, textures, and colors that was sometimes lacking in Chicago bungalow communities.

 
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Falconer

March 07, 2007

 

The Falconer Historic District sits on land that was originally owned and farmed by Scottish immigrant Laughlin Falconer. The land was open prairie when Falconer settled there in the mid-1800s—by the early decades of the 20th century, the area had been transformed into a thriving mixture of industrial, commercial, and residential. More than anything else, what distinguishes the bungalows that sprang up between the two northwest extensions of the Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul during the 1910s and 1920s is the fact that they were not segregated from the industrial and manufacturing districts where many of their residents worked—they were in the thick of it. The very conditions that many potential bungalow owners were eager to escape—a patchwork quilt of urban fabric that kept residential and industrial development in close proximity—worked to the advantage of builders and buyers in Belmont Cragin. Developers in the Falconer district were building homes within walking distance of major area employers like the W. F. Hall Printing Company and Lyon & Healy, manufacturers of pianos, organs, and musical instruments. Such a concentrated existing industrial infrastructure did not hinder the development of bungalow neighborhoods in Belmont Cragin; instead, it helped to fuel residential construction in the area.

 

Home building in the Falconer district initiated in November of 1915, when Edward H. Olsen & Henry Van Vooren began work on a series of bungalows on the 4900 block of West Oakdale Avenue. Although Olson and Van Vooren were the first, it was George C. Hield, a former hay dealer from Wisconsin who had moved to Chicago in the 1890’s to work in real estate, who was by far the most important player in the growth of the Falconer district. Hield purchased nearly all of the land subdivided by the Falconer family between 1913 and 1919 with the intention, according to the Chicago Tribune, of building “about thirty houses of various designs, including single dwellings of the ordinary type, bungalows, and two flat buildings to cost no less than $2500.”

During the first five years of construction, from November 1915 to April 1921, only three of the 101 homes built in the district were constructed by builders other than Hield (working with architect Ernest Braucher) and Olsen & Van Vooren (with architect Johan Knudson). These five men had shaped residential development in the area around the Falconer School during those years. After 1921, however, the floodgates opened and dozens of developers, builders, architects, and potential homeowners flocked to fill the remaining lots. 240 properties were built in the Falconer district between 1921 and 1925, eighty-seven in 1923 alone.

The ready availability of manufacturing and clerical jobs in the Belmont Cragin community meant that a good number of bungalow owners in the Falconer district housed extended family or adult children who maintained jobs outside the home and likely made contributions to the household economy. This sort of living situation was especially advantageous as the financial difficulties of the depression set in during the early 1930s. The bungalow at 4938 W. Oakdale Avenue was one example—Norwegian-born Nels Bae worked as a piano tuner at Lyon and Healy, a musical instrument factory on Fullerton Avenue. His oldest son, Henry, worked as a pattern maker at a clothing factory, while 19-year-old son, Howard, found work as a file clerk with an electric parts manufacturer. Despite the proximity to major industrial and manufacturing concerns, the strict residential boundaries of the Falconer district were as effective as any bungalow neighborhood in creating a very different world for bungalow owners to return home to. They came to share very similar brick bungalows in a quiet residential landscape that depended upon, but was emphatically set apart from, their worlds of commerce, industry, and labor.

 
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North Mayfair

February 01, 2006

 

North Mayfair was originally part of the town of Montrose in Jefferson Township, one of a group of small farming communities northwest of the city. Mayfair was ripe for growth by the time Jefferson Township was annexed to Chicago in 1889, and inroads were made quickly. By 1894, streetcar lines along Elston, Milwaukee, Montrose and Cicero Avenues linked portions of the area just south of North Mayfair to the center city. Streetcar lines along Pulaski Road (known at different times in its history as 40th Street, Crawford Avenue, and Clybourn Avenue) also served to bring Czechs from the city to the Bohemian National Cemetery, which had opened in 1877, despite initial resistance by Jefferson residents, to provide “freethinking” Czech immigrants with an alternative to traditional Catholic burial. The cemetery, which often served as a site for picnics and games, along with the Bohemian Home for the Aged, constructed in 1896, helped to attract a “noticeable number of Bohemian settlers” to the area by the turn of the century, a trend that would continue into the twentieth century, as the area filled with bungalows.

Despite their restrained style, the early bungalows in North Mayfair were well built and well-designed homes. Architects like Benedict Bruns and Ernest Braucher were just beginning to make names for themselves within the emerging bungalow belt. These early bungalows, though simple, reflected a thorough understanding of the form. As residential construction increased exponentially in North Mayfair between 1919 and 1923, a degree of variety began to emerge among the rows of brick bungalows. However, variations remained well within the framework established by the first homes in the district. Unlike many Chicago bungalow neighborhoods, North Mayfair did not develop in a strictly linear fashion with a clear and predictable evolution of form. The bungalow in Mayfair did not begin simply and evolve into an increasingly complex form, as it did in neighborhoods like Rogers Park Manor and South Park Manor. Instead, architects and developers in the district worked within a much more narrowly constructed definition of the Chicago bungalow. As a result, the district is visually much more cohesive than one would expect given the number of builders and designers involved, and the streetscapes are more consistent than many Chicago bungalow neighborhoods.

 

Like most bungalow districts in Chicago, North Mayfair drew families from a diverse array of ethnic and economic backgrounds together under the common goal of homeownership. Over one-third of the homes in North Mayfair were owned by immigrant families; approximately three-fourths of American born heads of household in the district were children of immigrants. Male heads of household worked at a broad array of skilled blue collar and middle-class white-collar jobs that afforded them enough income to make a modest down payment on their bungalows and to keep making monthly payments. A good number of bungalow owners in Mayfair housed extended family or adult children who maintained jobs outside the home and likely made contributions to the household economy. The bungalows that emerged in North Mayfair between 1913 and 1930 allowed working and middle-class, blue- and white-collar families to also share in the American dream of homeownership. For these families, and for families living throughout Chicago’s bungalow belt, the bungalow provided a thoughtfully designed, solidly built, and thoroughly modern home, while providing a place where groups of economically, ethnically, and culturally diverse people could come together into a uniform American residential fabric.

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Rogers Park Manor

November 15, 2005

 

The area of West Rogers Park, or West Ridge, was inhabited first by Potowatomi Indians in the 17th century, followed by German and Luxembourger farmers who settled the area during the 1830s and 1840s. West Ridge was incorporated as a village in 1890 and was annexed to Chicago in 1893. However, interest in wide-scale residential real estate development to fill the open land between the brickyards and the emerging commercial corridor along Western Avenue would not begin in earnest until after World War I, when the population boom created a scramble for new housing in previously undeveloped parts of the city. National City Reality sold the first parcels of land in the new subdivision of Rogers Park Manor around 1918; the remaining lots were sold over a 15-year period between 1915 and 1930 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 of no more than five. This pattern of development gave Rogers Park Manor a sense of diversity in its housing stock that more rigidly planned bungalow neighborhoods lacked.

Bungalow building began in earnest in Rogers Park Manor in 1923; Architects and developers followed a simplified, economical formula for the bungalows in Rogers Park Manor until the later 1920s, when the form of the Chicago bungalow in Rogers Park underwent a dramatic transformation as more white-collar households took an interest in the area and housing prices rose. These bungalows featured the rounded or polygonal front bays, inconspicuous corner or side entrances, and more costly details like art glass windows that were more typical of late 1920s Chicago bungalows.

Chicago bungalow neighborhoods like Rogers Park Manor offered home buyers more than solid, well-made homes; they made good residential design accessible to middle-class families. Local bungalow architects Benedict J. Bruns, Ernest Braucher, Lyman Allison, and dozens of others experimented with form and stylistic detailing to create bungalows that were truly unique to Chicago. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in Rogers Park Manor, where the early form of the practical and efficient but understated bungalow quickly gave way to large and elaborate homes that challenged the accepted idea of the Chicago bungalow. Developer Edward Zeches and architect Benedict J. Bruns designed and built a large percentage of the homes in the Rogers Park Manor nomination area. Although not always paired together, Zeches and Bruns were the most influential forces in shaping the development of Rogers Park Manor, and the many other architects, developers and builders in the district followed in their footsteps when they built bungalows in the neighborhood. Despite the variety of participants, the Rogers Park Manor district exhibits a uniform scale and a sense of cohesiveness because of the predominance of one-and-one-half story brick bungalows.

Like most bungalow districts in Chicago, Rogers Park Manor drew families from a diverse array of ethnic and economic backgrounds together under the common goal of homeownership. Among the more colorful of the neighborhoods residents were known gangsters Timothy (“Big Tim”) Murphy, who was shot and killed in front of his bungalow at 2525 West Morse in 1928, and Joseph Aiello, who lived with his extended family in the two story home at 2553 West Lunt Avenue until his murder in 1930. Murphy’s death may have made Rogers Park Manor front page news, but no doubt residents preferred the less volatile professions of other famous faces in the community, including xylophonist Lou Chiha (“Signor Friscoe”), who recorded twelve records for Edison and was well-known among the vaudeville circuit, and artist George B. Petty. Petty, famous for his female pin-up drawings known as “Petty Girls” which helped launch Esquire magazine in 1933 and were distributed in magazines and calendars across the nation, worked from a studio in the basement of his bungalow at 2609 West Coyle. It was here that he designed his most celebrated work, the poster for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

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Wrightwood

September 15, 2004

 

The Wrightwood district reflects both large-scale speculative building and individual residential development. Stoltzner Construction Company and architect Joseph Klafter designed and built all thirty-two bungalows on the 4600 block of W. Wrightwood Avenue in 1923-1924. Charles O. Stoltzner, who immigrated from Denmark in 1905, formed the company in 1920 with his two brothers. Stoltzner and architect Joseph Klafter designed the bungalows on the 4600 block as a group. All 16 bungalows on each block face were constructed simultaneously during the fall of 1923, for $6000 each.

The most elaborate bungalow in the Wrightwood district, 4701 W. Wrightwood, was constructed in 1925 by Stoltzner Construction. The bungalow, which cost $15,000 to build, created a showpiece for the new neighborhood that adhered to the same basic design guidelines set by the existing bungalows on the block.

In contrast, the 4700 block developed gradually during the late 1910s and early 1920s through the work of numerous individual homeowners, small-time builders and architects. The first bungalow on Wrightwood was built in 1916. Gunder Gunderson, a Norwegian carpenter, commissioned architect J. R. Reynertson to build a bungalow at 4721 W. Wrightwood. Gunderson paid $3000 for his new bungalow. Despite the variety of participants, the growth and development of the district maintained a uniform scale and a sense of cohesiveness.

The district’s unified residential landscape is the result not only of the dominance of one-and-one-half story brick bungalows on these blocks, but also of the unique streetscape. One of the few bungalow communities to be built on a boulevard, the district encompassing the 4600 and 4700 blocks of W. Wrightwood sits within a generous landscape framed by a 200-foot right-of-way that encompasses two one-way streets and a large central swath of open space. The raised track of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad to the east further enhances the sense of an enclosed landscape, physically separating the bungalow blocks from higher density apartment buildings to the east.

Although the bungalows on Wrightwood exhibited a uniform residential character, the first families who lived there formed a socially and ethnically diverse community. Carpenter Otto Peterson lived above a Chinese laundry in Hyde Park before moving to his bungalow at 4718 W. Wrightwood with his wife and two young sons. John Engedahl, a Norwegian mail carrier who immigrated in 1893, lived in a second story apartment above a store on Milwaukee Avenue, before buying the bungalow at 4626 W. Wrightwood. His former neighbors were a printing shop and an undertaker’s parlor. Bungalow neighborhoods allowed families from diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds to share in the American dream of homeownership.

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Schorsch Irving Park Gardens

February 25, 2004

 

The development of the Schorsch Irving Park Gardens from 1917 to 1926 typified the rise and enormous popularity of Chicago bungalow neighborhoods between 1907 and 1930. The tens of thousands of one and one-and-one-half story brick bungalows built in the city’s outlying neighborhoods between 1910 and1930 stood at the forefront of the expansion of single-family homeownership. Built together on entire blocks, the unprecedented form of Chicago bungalow created an entirely novel form of Chicago urbanism.

The area that would become Irving Park Gardens lay largely undeveloped until the turn of the century—the opening of the Milwaukee Avenue streetcar line through Portage Park in 1894 and the extension of another line along Irving Park Road in 1896 raised new interest in the area’s development. The city built the O.A. Thorp Public School on the west side of Austin Avenue in 1916. The school provided something of a magnet for residential development, which began in 1917 with the construction of 16 bungalows on the 6000 block of Grace Street, immediately north of the school. These bungalows, designed by Axel V. Teisen, were the first of over 600 bungalows that real estate developer Albert J. Schorsch & Company would build during the late 1910s and early 1920s.

Schorsch was born in 1888 in Hungary to Anton and Mary Schorsch, his German-speaking parents. In 1895 Schorsch’s parents and their five children immigrated to Morris, IL. In his teens, Albert worked in a bakery and as a night watchman at a bank in Morris. He then moved to Chicago to find work. In 1913, at the age of twenty-five, Schorsch started his own real estate, contracting, and building business. He built his first bungalow on North Nagle, just a few blocks south and west of the tract he would develop as Irving Park Gardens.

Albert Schorsch’s modest beginnings as a German-speaking immigrant laborer and his struggle to make a better life for himself and his family connected him to the middle-class and working-class families who bought his bungalows. Foreign-born immigrants headed approximately one quarter of the neighborhood families, and American-born children of immigrants headed many more. Many of these families had moved from apartments in Chicago neighborhoods where commercial, industrial, and residential buildings existed noisily side by side. The fairly uniform, quiet residential bungalow blocks in Irving Park Gardens stood in sharp contrast to the “crazy-quilt” urbanism that prevailed in the city’s older neighborhoods.

Critics of the bungalow neighborhoods that were springing up around Chicago in the 1910s and 1920s worried about the monotony that could arise from identical bungalows lined up and fairly tightly packed on adjacent urban lots. One of the notable elements of Albert J. Schorsch’s Irving Park Gardens was the studied effect to create varied blocks. Schorsch worked with architect Axel Teisen and, to a larger extent, with residential architect Ernest Newton Braucher to create different bungalow designs that would give variety and rhythm to each block. Nevertheless, the uniform building lines, street lawns and residential fabric in the area created broader neighborhood cohesiveness. On such restricted bungalow blocks, a diverse ethnicity was assimilated into a fairly uniform American residential fabric.

 
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South Park Manor

February 25, 2004

 

As in the Irving Park Gardens district, the bungalows comprising the South Park Manor District reflect the rise and popularity of the Chicago bungalow and the promotion of single-family homeownership between 1910 and 1930. The district is unique among Chicago bungalow neighborhoods, however, because of its spacious landscape. The area’s generous 100-foot-wide right-of-ways were put into place in 1869, when real estate developer Levi C. Pitner laid out a 160-acre subdivision in what would become South Park Manor. Anticipating that affluent families would continue to move south to escape the city, Pitner planned 100-foot-wide lots that would easily accommodate substantial suburban residences. However, Pitner’s vision of suburban grandeur failed to materialize. When builders finally started developing the neighborhood 45 years later, they divided the lots into three parcels to accommodate the modern bungalow. Nevertheless, the grand right-of-ways survived, giving bungalow builders in South Park Manor the opportunity to merge their residential designs with the prairie landscape.

Until the turn of the century, development of the area south of 75th Street and west of South Park Avenue had been hampered by a lack of transportation lines. Streetcar lines gradually improved access to the area, and by 1910 Chicago’s growing population and the network of transit lines brought development to South Park Manor. Bungalow building began in 1915 and 1916, when three bungalows were constructed on the 7600 and 7700 blocks of S. Calumet Avenue. The general form and style of these bungalows soon proliferated on adjacent lots. Unlike Irving Park Gardens, which was developed by a single company and only two architects, a multitude of participants developed South Park Manor. Several developers, led by John W. Turner and Richard Krogh, commissioned residential architects, led by Anders G. Lund, John Nevin Coleman, and Luther W. McDonald, to give distinctive shape to the area. Numerous other developers, builders and architects, many working on only a few houses, also shaped the area. Although the nearly complete building of South Park Manor took only about a dozen years, the interval was long enough and the number of builders and architects who took a hand in its development was large enough to give the district a fine cross section of bungalow design.

The wide variety of bungalow designs and the large amount of green space frontage allowed the South Park Manor district to avoid the two major criticisms thrown at urban bungalow neighborhoods—that they fostered monotony and failed to merge residence and landscape. What emerged in the South Park Manor district was a harmonious and aesthetically cohesive residential landscape. For many early residents, the neighborhood represented a distinct contrast to the urban neighborhoods where they had previously lived. Early bungalow owners in South Park Manor were ethnically diverse and worked in a broad array of skilled blue collar and middle-class white-collar jobs. Swedish, German, Norwegian, Polish, English, Russian, Bohemian, Italian, Greek and French families lived side by side. Packing house foremen, bricklayers and taxi drivers shared blocks with accountants, salesmen and shop owners. South Park Manor’s residents were united by the American dream of homeownership, and by their desire to protect and enhance their neighborhood.

South Park Manor extended the benefits of middle-class homeownership to many first time homebuyers not only when the new houses were built, but through the decades. After a 1948 Supreme Court decision barred the use of restrictive racial covenants in real estate, African Americans began moving out of older congested neighborhoods to purchase homes for the first time. In the 1950s and 1960s, the neighborhood changed from a white middle-class community to a black middle-class community. The racial character of the neighborhood changed, but it continued to play its historical role of accommodating middle-class homeownership.

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