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20 Vintage Home Styles in Chicago

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!


Chicago’s residential buildings may seem commonplace to those of us who grew up around here, but our architecture (even the revival styles) are uniquely ours! The materials used to build these houses were determined largely by what we had around us—brick (clay), limestone, particular kinds of wood, etc.—and everything from lot sizes to building codes determined the form and scale of our dwellings. These adaptations have resulted in a collection of truly “Chicago” homes, as original as the people who have inhabited them.

Please note that this list and these descriptions are not exhaustive. This is an overview of the main vintage home styles we’ve seen, and their typical features, but there were quirks, innovations, tweaks, and stylistic nods along the way. (And yes, we went a little bungalow-heavy with our examples, but what can we say—we’re the Chicago Bungalow Association!)

In rough chronological order, here are 20 vintage home styles in Chicago:

1. Second Empire (1870s-1880s)

  • Intricate stone ornament surrounding doors and windows

  • Sloping mansard roofs, often with multi-colored slate shingles and elaborate dormers

  • Prominent cornices

  • Styles can vary—as long as it is topped with a mansard roof, it’s Second Empire

2. Workers Cottage (1870s-1910s)

  • Can be brick or frame construction

  • Does NOT have overhanging eaves like a bungalow

  • Roof is a little more steep than a bungalow and not hipped

  • Street-facing gable

  • Often have Italianate details

3. Victorian / Queen Anne (1880-1910)

  • More than two stories

  • Steeply-pitched roof

  • Asymmetrical façade

  • Partial or full-width porch

  • Lack of a smooth-walled appearance

4. Greystone (1890-1940)

  • “Rusticated” (rough) limestone facade (earlier versions) and smooth limestone facades (later)

  • Brick sides

  • Usually two or three stories, occasionally one-story “shoebox” greystones can be found

  • May have large pediments, elaborate parapets, arched windows, columns and other Romanesque or Neo-Classical details

5. Colonial Revival (1880-1955)

  • Accentuated front door, normally with decorative crown (pediment) supported by pilasters

  • Center entrance, symmetrical

  • Side gables (roof slopes front-to-back)

  • Windows usually have double-hung sashes and multi-pane glazing

6. Dutch Colonial (1890-1940)

  • Gambrel-style gable roof

  • Nearly-full second story

  • Often have dormers or continuous shed dormer with several windows

  • May have a full-width front porch

7. Prairie Style (1900-1920)

  • Low-pitched roof, usually hipped

  • Widely-overhanging eaves

  • Two stories with one story wings, porches and porte cocheres

  • Eaves, cornices and facade details that emphasize horizontal lines

  • Often massive, square porch supports

8. American Foursquare (1900-1930)

  • Symmetrical

  • Square or slightly rectangular footprint

  • 2-½ stories

  • Centered attic dormer

  • Low-hipped roofs with overhangs

  • Covered front porch that extends the length of the facade

9. Frame / Stucco Bungalow (1900-1930)

  • Predecessor to Chicago bungalow, with some built concurrently

  • Frame (wood) construction

  • Low-pitched, gabled roof (occasionally hipped) with wide, unenclosed overhang

  • Roof rafters usually exposed

  • Decorative (false) beams or braces added under gables

  • Full or partial-width porches with roof supported by tapered square columns

10. Chicago Bungalow (1910-mid 1930s)

  • Brick construction

  • 1-½ stories above a basement

  • Low-pitched hipped roof (occasionally gabled), with wide overhangs

  • Porch with steps ascending from street level (sometimes side entrances)

  • Generous windows, sometimes with leaded art glass

  • Simple style influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement

11. Detroit Bungalow (1910-mid 1930s)

  • Same as Chicago bungalow except side gable roofline

  • Shed dormers or pitched dormers

  • Can be brick, frame, or stucco

12. Mediterranean Revival (1920-1940)

13. Art Deco (1920-1940)

  • Smooth wall surface (often stucco)

  • Flat roof

  • Zigzags, chevrons, and other stylized and geometric motifs used as decorative elements

  • Towers or other vertical projections above the roof line (vertical emphasis)

14. Art Moderne (1920-1940)

  • Smooth wall surface, usually stucco

  • Often has rounded surfaces

  • Flat roof, usually with small ledge (coping) at roofline

  • Horizontal grooves or lines in walls and horizontal balustrade elements (horizontal emphasis)

  • Facade usually asymmetrical

15. Georgian Revival (1930s-1960s)

  • Square footprint

  • Brick exterior

  • Unadorned except for decorative shutters

  • Bay window

  • Two stories

  • Hipped roof

16. Tudor Revival (1930s-1960s)

  • Steeply-pitched roof

  • Cross gables

  • 1-½ stories

  • Decorative half-timbering

  • Tall, narrow windows

  • Large chimney

  • (Cottage-y stone details around doors and windows are another good hint)

17. Cape Cod (1930s-1960s)

  • Brick construction

  • Front gable, occasionally a cross-gable

  • 1-½ stories

  • Similar to Tudor Revivals but generally with paired-down detailing and a slightly lower pitch to the roof

  • Part of the Minimal Traditional trend in small home building of the era

18. Modernist Ranch (1930s-60s)

  • Single story or split-level

  • Low-pitched or flat roof

  • Asymmetrical floor plan

  • Indoor-meets-outdoor living spaces (lots of windows and connections between indoor and outdoor spaces)

  • Attached garage

  • Back patio space

19. Ranch / Raised Ranch (1940s-70s)

  • One-story (sometimes two-story if raised ranch)

  • Asymmetrical

  • Low-pitched roof, sometimes cantilevered (extending far beyond the outer wall)

  • Wood or brick cladding

  • Sometimes, decorative shutters (none pictured)

20. Split-Level (1950s-60s)

  • Two or three levels (often with a single-story wing)

  • Low-pitched roof with overhanging eaves

  • Garage and “family room” at lower level

  • Bedrooms are upstairs

Any single-family home located within the City of Chicago that was built at least 50 years ago may be considered a vintage home by the Chicago Bungalow Association, and therefore may become a member for free. Vintage home owners can take advantage of our many resources such as our Energy Savers program for free insulation, special offers for members from contractors on our Trusted Referrals directory, educational seminars, and more. Owners of Chicago bungalows may enjoy these benefits, plus awards for restoration, rehab, and landscaping projects completed on historic Chicago bungalows.

If you have questions about your vintage home, feel free to contact us. We're here to help!

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