To show appreciation for the 20,000+ dedicated homeowners who have joined as members of CBA in 20 years, we are posting one blog each month in 2020 listing 20 things of interest to bungalow and vintage home owners. #Bungalow2020!
Many of us are taking long walks now more than before, wanting to enjoy a change of scenery. At the same time, several of our members are using this time to gather inspiration from their fellow 'bungalowners' while planning their own home improvement projects. Whether you’re looking for bungalow design inspiration or you’re just a Chicago architecture enthusiast, going on your own bungalow walking, biking or driving tour is a great reason to get out of the house and explore other neighborhoods!
The 14 Chicago Bungalow Historic Districts are a great place to start. If you want to venture out a little further, the Central Berwyn Historic District has a massive amount of beautiful bungalows and other historic homes. Plus, we asked our followers on social media where their favorite places are for bungalow site-seeing and incorporated their great suggestions. See the full list of 20 destinations below, and let us know where else you recommend!
(To make things easy, we included a map of all 20 sites at the end!)
1. Rogers Park Manor Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Lunt Ave (N) to Farwell Ave (S) between California Ave (W) and Western Ave (E)
If you’re looking for big, ornate, round-fronted bungalows, this northernmost Chicago Bungalow Historic District is the one to go to! We actually organized a tour of this district for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2017. Check out the tour booklet for lots of fun facts and unique bungalows to see.
While you’re there, be sure to look at the historic Indian Boundary Park Cultural Center at 2500 W Lunt Ave, and take a stroll through the park.
2. Talman West Ridge Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Talman Ave between Pratt Blvd (N) and Devon Ave (S)
Steps south of the Rogers Park Manor Bungalow Historic District is another, slightly smaller, West Ridge bungalow district. The Talman West Ridge Bungalow Historic District encompasses about 9 blocks and is definitely walkable on a nice day.
If you need some fuel for your walk, grab a bite at one of the many restaurants or bakeries along Devon Avenue, the heart of Chicago’s Indian and Pakistani communities. Or grab cooking ingredients at one of the Devon Avenue markets before heading home. (Fun fact: over 40 languages are spoken in West Ridge!)
3. Brainerd Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Ada St (W) to Racine Ave (E) between 89th St (N) and 95th St (S)
In this southernmost Chicago Bungalow Historic District, be sure to check out the late-1920s architectural details on the 9000 and 9200 blocks of South Racine Avenue. The bungalows’ projecting, five-sided bays are filled with art glass windows. This district is also home to Brainerd Park and Fort Dearborn Elementary School, two historic centerpieces in the community.
If you’re traveling by bike, take a ride along the Major Taylor Trail. In 2007, the Chicago Park District acquired this abandoned railroad line along the southwestern edge of the community and converted it into trails, connecting six neighborhoods and crossing the Calumet River and I-57. Also nearby is the Woodson Regional Branch of the Chicago Public Library at 95th and Halsted, which 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!
4. South Shore Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Clyde Ave (W) to Crandon Ave (E) between 75th St (N) and 78th St (S)
In 2015, we partnered with the Vernacular Architecture Forum on a bus tour of this district. View the tour booklet here! In this district, you can also see early stucco and frame bungalows, built between 1911 and 1914, on the 7600 block of South Merrill and Crandon Avenues. Originally, most of these homes were built with open front porches. When you look at the row of stucco bungalows on Merrill, you’ll notice the porches were later enclosed, likely in the 1920s or 1930s, by homeowners who preferred the practicality of year-round space to the luxury of an outdoor room. The first brick bungalow built in the district is 7523 S Paxton, in 1915. It was designed by Ernest Braucher, who you will notice throughout this list was prevalent in many other Chicago Bungalow Historic Districts.
While you’re here, you should definitely visit the historic South Shore Cultural Center at 7059 S South Shore Dr. One mile southwest of the district, you can see the beautiful Avalon Regal Theater at 1645 E 79th St. The theater is currently vacant, but rich in history and where Barack Obama’s acceptance speech for the presidential nomination was held in 2008. While there, don’t miss the stunning murals on the theater, and in the surrounding area along 79th Street.
5. North Mayfair Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Kostner Ave (W) to Tripp Ave (E) between Foster Ave (N) and Lawrence Ave (S)
North Mayfair may be one of the smaller neighborhoods in Chicago, but in 2010, This Old House Magazine listed North Mayfair as being one of the best "Old House" neighborhoods in the United States.
This beautiful district is not too far from another classic site great for history walks, Bohemian National Cemetery, at 5255 N Pulaski Rd. For a sweet treat to-go, stop at Red Ribbon Bakeshop, a Filipino bakery at 5033 N Elston Ave.
6. Ravenswood Manor Historic District
(Roughly) Sacramento Ave (W) to the North Branch of the Chicago River (E) between Lawrence Ave (N) and Montrose Ave (S)
Ravenswood Manor’s winding streets contain a large number of bungalows, American Foursquares, and numerous other single-family homes in revival styles. Some of the homes along the river have their own docks. One of the most famous recent residents is former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who can once again be seen jogging through the neighborhood!
To look over the river, go to Wilson or Montrose Avenue. Then, you can find the little Sunken Gardens Park at the intersection of Sunnyside Avenue and the Chicago River.
7. Central Berwyn Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Home Ave (W) to Ridgeland Ave (E) between Cermak Rd (N) and 26th St (S)
Even though the title of this blog is “20 Chicago Bungalow Site-Seeing Destinations,” it would be wrong to not mention the Central Berwyn Historic District just 2 miles outside of the city. Berwyn is known to have a massive number of Chicago-style bungalows, and their bungalow district certainly proves this, listing 1,360 residences. While not all are bungalows, a majority are, making the Central Berwyn Bungalow Historic District the largest of such districts in Illinois and one of the largest in the United States!
And while you’re in the area, why not take a short, 2 mile drive to either Oak Park Conservatory or Brookfield Zoo?
8. South Park Manor Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Michigan Ave (W) to Calumet Ave (E) between 75th St (N) and 79th St (S)
These Greater Grand Crossing blocks were the first to ever be listed as a Chicago Bungalow Historic District! It’s also unique for its spacious landscape, with generous 100-foot-wide right-of-ways. Interestingly, large lots were put into place in 1869, 45 years before any homes were built, because real estate developer Levi C. Pitner anticipated affluent families would continue to move south to escape the dense city and want large suburban residences. But with a lack of transportation lines, his vision failed to materialize. When builders finally started developing the neighborhood decades later, they divided the lots into three parcels to accommodate the modern bungalow. Luckily, the grand right-of-ways survived and are enjoyed by bungalows owners today!
Plan to go on a Thursday this summer so you can swing by the 7300 block of South Indiana Avenue with your mask and lawn chair to enjoy live music (in front of a bungalow!) by JC and the REUP. You might have seen the video of them playing “Do I Do” by Stevie Wonder that went viral on Facebook. The Sun Times did a great story about them and their porch sessions! The live music usually starts around 2:30pm and goes until 6:30pm.
9. West Chatham Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Harvard Ave (W) to Perry Ave (E) between 79th St (N) and 82nd St (S)
Check out the mix of open front porches, gable roofs, art glass windows, and stamped brick on the bungalows along La Salle Street. Across from a bungalow row, at 8101 S La Salle St, you’ll see the large, red brick, neoclassical Lenart Elementary Regional Gifted Center (formerly Hookway Elementary), designed by John C. Christensen, who was appointed the Board of Education’s architect in 1921. (In a 1922 Chicago Daily Tribune article, a journalist described Chicago’s public school buildings before Christensen as being “as attractive architecturally as a pickle factory—and just about as inspiring”!)
From several of the district’s North-South streets, you can walk right into West Chatham Park. Another site not too far away is the former home of “The Queen of Gospel,” Mahalia Jackson, located at 8358 S Indiana Ave. She lived in this late-1940s ranch from 1956 until her death in 1972.
10. Portage Park Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Pensacola Ave (N) to Hutchinson St (S) between Central Ave (W) and Lockwood Ave (E)
One interesting story about this district is that, in the 1960s and 70s, a proposed highway that would have connected to the Kennedy and ran south on Cicero Avenue, was strongly opposed by local resident groups. A newspaper article from 1975 referred to the bungalows in Portage Park as “Polish battleships,” describing how the community was able to defeat this proposed Crosstown Expressway because of its united front, largely made up of Polish homeowners.
Check out the impressive brick bungalow at 5501 W Cullom Ave, designed by Slupkowski & Piontek, a prolific architectural firm who worked mostly in Chicago’s early Eastern European neighborhoods. You might also want to take some photos of the grand and historic Portage Theater at 4050 N Milwaukee Ave. And don’t forget to spend some time in beautiful Portage Park (the actual park!) at 4100 N Long Ave.
11. Schorsch Irving Park Gardens Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Grace St (N) to Patterson Ave (S) between Melvina Ave (W) and Austin Ave (E)
This westernmost Chicago Bungalow Historic District is not too far from the Portage Park district. When developing his Irving Park Gardens, Albert J. Schorsch worked with architects Axel Teisen and Ernest Braucher to create different bungalow designs that would give variety and rhythm to each block. This was because 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 tightly packed together.
Two blocks west, you can take a walk through the grand limestone chapel entrance of Mt. Olive Cemetery, which was built in 1889.
12. Gage Park Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Sacramento Ave (W) to California Ave (E) between 55th St (N) and 59th St (S)
This is our newest Chicago Bungalow Historic District, just listed this past March on the National Register of Historic Places. A notable piece of the area’s legacy is that in the mid-1960s, civil rights coalitions made Gage Park, and nearby Marquette Park, the site of marches for equal housing, including one led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
You can see the first bungalows that were built in the district, in March 1919, at 5742 and 5748 S California Ave.
13. West Elsdon Bungalows
Kedvale Ave (W) and Karlov Ave (E) between 61st St (N) and 62nd St (S)
Also on the Southwest Side, there are bungalows in the West Elsdon neighborhood worth seeing. One of our social media followers recommends starting with the concentration on Kedvale and Karlov Avenues between 61st and 62nd Streets.
If you’re hungry, you can place takeout orders at neighborhood favorites, Paco’s Tacos 2 at 6034 S Pulaski Rd and Windy City Hotdogs at 4205 W 63rd St.
14. Auburn Gresham Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Wolcott Ave (W) to Hermitage Ave (E) between 75th St (N) and 78th St (S)
Go to the 7600 block of South Honore Street to find a set of unique bungalows with symmetrical three-bay facades and brick porches accessed through French doors. Also within the district is Clara Barton Elementary School at 7650 S Wolcott Ave, which opened in the fall of 1928. The school was named after the well-known activist for women’s suffrage and African American civil rights, and founder of the American Red Cross.
Nearby, you can see beautiful St. Sabina Church, which is headed by Chicago’s well-known priest, the Rev. Michael Pfleger. The church was dedicated in 1933 and is located at 1210 W 78th Pl.
15. Wrightwood Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Wrightwood Ave between Cicero Ave (W) and Kenton Ave (E)
This lovely little district is easily walkable, only encompassing the 4600 and 4700 blocks of North Wrightwood Avenue, separated by a tree-lined green space. It’s one of the few bungalow communities to be built on a boulevard. 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 apartment buildings to the east.
If you want to keep going after seeing this district, two larger ones are just a few blocks north: the Hermosa and Falconer Bungalow Historic Districts.
16. Hermosa Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Kilbourn Ave (W) to Kostner Ave (E) between Belmont Ave (N) and Diversey Ave (S)
Railroads and industrial development separated this historic district from other communities, but also created a tightly-knit community that was buffered in a way to give residents a sense of security. The name “Hermosa,” which means “beautiful” in Spanish, supposedly came from the Secretary to the Superintendent of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway (the old Chicago & Pacific Railway)––a name that still resonates today!
There’s lots to see and do nearby the district. You can check out Walt Disney’s childhood home at 2156 N Tripp Ave. If you’re hungry, grab some food at a neighborhood taqueria like the brightly painted Taqueria Poncitlan at 4158 W Armitage Ave that has been a favorite in the neighborhood for almost a quarter century. Then sit down for a picnic in Kelvyn Park, which features a two-story Georgian-style fieldhouse at 4438 W Wrightwood Ave.
17. Falconer Bungalow Historic District
(Roughly) Wellington Ave (N) to Wolfram St (S) between Laramie Ave (W) and Lamon Ave (E)
During the first five years of construction here, from 1915 to 1921, it was just about five men who shaped residential development around the Falconer School. 101 homes were built in these first five years, and only three of those homes were by builders other than Hield (working with architect Ernest Braucher) and Olsen & Van Vooren (with architect Johan Knudson). After 1921, the floodgates opened and dozens of others flocked to the remaining lots.
Within the district, you’ll see the Laughlin Falconer Elementary School, which was initiated in 1915 and completed in 1918. Nearby, you can check out Chicago Tabernacle Church (originally Belpark Theater) at 3231 N Cicero Ave, a theater-turned-movie house-turned-bingo hall-turned church.
18. Chicago Lawn Bungalows (and Bungalow-esque Two-Flats!)
Washtenaw Ave (W) to Artesian Ave (E) between Marquette Rd (N) and 71st St (S)
As a bungalow-heavy region of Chicago, the bungalow development sprawls out in every direction from this area, but we kept it specific to make things easy for you! In addition to the classic one-and-a-half-story bungalows you would expect, you can also see here what some have called “double-decker” bungalows. There are many two-flats in this area with hipped, dormered roofs and other details that make them resemble Chicago-style bungalows.
At the northwest corner of this area, you can also take a look at the motherhouse of Sisters of St. Casimir, which has been standing (but added on to) since 1911. On the southwest corner, you can visit St. Adrian Roman Catholic Church, established in 1928. And of course, there’s the beautiful Marquette Park, Lagoon, Golf Course, and Fishing Spot!
19. Archer Heights Bungalows (and More Bungalow-esque Two-Flats!)
Kostner Ave (W) to Komensky Ave (E) between 48th St (N) and 50th St (S)
Here’s another neighborhood where you can see “double-decker” bungalows, or more accurately, hipped-roof two-flats. There are also many beautiful gardens on these blocks, so go for a stroll before the weather turns too cold!
Nearby, you can grab takeout at one of the many highly-rated restaurants and taquerias in the area and have a picnic in Archer Park.
20. South Chicago Bungalows
Clyde Ave (W) to Oglesby Ave (E) between 80th St (N) and South Chicago Ave (S)
Today, you can still find rows of bungalows in the South Chicago community area with identical vintage lamp posts in their front lawns, giving these bungalow blocks a further sense of cohesiveness. (Try the 8300 block of South Luella Avenue if you aren’t seeing any.) You can also find these charming lamp posts in other Chicago Bungalow Historic Districts, like South Park Manor and West Chatham. (If you know the history of these lamp posts, please let us know!)
For a bite to eat nearby, That’s A Burger at 8301 S Stony Island Ave has been recommended by our members, or check out The Woodlawn at 1200 E 79th St. And, if you’re not quite done with your bungalow site-seeing adventure, head directly west past I-90 to the Avalon Park community area for even more bungalow blocks!
Here's a map of all 20 sites:
Where else do you recommend seeing some great Chicago bungalows? Comment below!