Bungalows, Bungalows, Bungalows

The bungalow actually traces its origins to the Indian province of Bengal, the word itself derived from the Hindi bangla or house in Bengali style.[1] The native thatched roof huts were adapted by the British, who built bungalows as houses for administrators and as summer retreats.[2] Refined and popularized in California, many books list the first California house dubbed a bungalow as the one designed by the San Francisco architect A. Page Brown in the early 1890s. However, Brown’s close friend, Joseph Worcester, designed a bungalow for himself and erected it atop a hill in Piedmont, across the bay from San Francisco, in 1877-78. The bungalow influenced Bernard Maybeck, Willis Polk and other San Francisco architects and Jack London, who rented Worcester’s house from 1902-03 called it a “bungalow with a capital ‘B’”.[3]
The bungalow became popular because it met the needs of changing times in which the lower middle class were moving from apartments to private houses in great numbers. Bungalows were modest, inexpensive and low-profile. Before World War I, a bungalow could be built for as little as $900 although the price rose to around $3,500 after the war. Bungalow designs were spread by the practice of building from mail-order plans available from illustrated catalogs, sometimes with alterations based on local practice or conditions. A variety of firms offered precut homes, which were shipped by rail or ship and assembled on site. These were most common in locations without a strong existing construction industry, or for company towns, to be built in a short time. The majority of bungalows did include some elements of mass production; typically doors, windows, and built-in furnishings such as bookcases, desks, or folding beds were sourced from lumber yards or from catalogs.
Bungalows can be found in the older neighborhoods of most American cities. In fact, they were so popular for a time that many cities have what is called a “Bungalow Belt” of homes built in the 1920s. These neighborhoods were often clustered along streetcar lines as they extended into the suburbs. Bungalows were built in smaller groups than is typical today, often one to three at a time.

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