Bungalow Home Architectural Style


The StarTribune has referred to bungalow home remodeling Minneapolis as “modest in size but big on vintage charm”. A truly unique term for a house, “bungalow” has its derivation in 17th century India. The word “Bengali” referred to a small house, and its English translation was used by English sailors of the East India Company. Basically, it describes a one- to one-and-a-half story home — perfect lodging for Brits traveling abroad, and eventually transformed into housing by fellow citizens back home. Although the first bungalow to be officially built in the United States wasn’t erected until 1879 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the style later caught on in California, where architects Charles and Henry Greene helped to popularize it. After World War I, it quickly caught on, spreading eastward and evolving to become Chicago bungalows (often made of brick, and at one point making up nearly a third of the Windy City’s total homes), Michigan (especially Detroit) bungalows, raised bungalows (to let in more sunlight and sometimes even double as a garage), Ranch bungalows (planned so that the bedrooms were on one side of the house and the rest of the rooms were on the other) — even ‘Ultimate’ bungalows, which were grand-size versions of the original, built with more expensive materials.

In the Borscht Belt of the Catskill Mountains, summer resorts frequented largely by Jewish New Yorkers were known as “bungalow colonies,” a testament to how the trend had swept the country. Moreover, half the home kits in the Aladdin catalog of the early Twenties were for bungalows.

But for the most part, the Bungalow style appealed to young families and others buying their first home. Small, practical and economical, the homes were horizontal, featuring low roof angles and boasting a prominent front porch with rafter tails. They were also a refreshing departure from the staid and haughty Victorian mansions that many Americans had grown tired of.

Inside, the living and dining rooms were usually emphasized, separated by an archway and surrounded by the bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms. The kitchen was simple — with the occasional breakfast nook considered an extravagance. Bedrooms were about 11-by-11 feet. Interior doors were sometimes multi-paneled. And finally, maple or oaken floors were the order of the day.

While bungalows were the rage in the early part of the 20th century, fewer were constructed after 1930 and until 1960, when there was a resurgence, especially of the raised-bungalow variety. (The latter-day ones that were built tended to be oblong, while the originals were square.) No matter the time period, no matter the additions or changes the style has accrued, interiors have an arts-and-crafts feel to them, to the point that the terms bungalow, arts and crafts, and craftsman have become difficult to distinguish.

Is bungalow remodeling in Minneapolis popular? If the existence of the Twin Cities Bungalow Club is any indication, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” The club’s charter is to preserve the homes and cultivate an appreciation for them within the community. And while there are some bungalows in St. Paul, most are in Minneapolis, common in neighborhoods like Powderhorn and Nokomis; in fact, 60 percent of the domiciles in Longfellow are bungalows.

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