American Architecture Styles
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Popular 20th century house types were prevalent in Beverly-Morgan Park. Common early century types include the American Foursquare, Bungalow and Chicago Bungalow. With the arrival of the 1940s, the Minimal Traditional and especially the Ranch became popular. The late 1950s saw the development of the Split Level and the Monterey. Other types include the Raised Ranch and Shed, so called because of its roof type.
American Foursquare houses are simple, usually symmetrical houses that began to appear at the turn of the century. The house is typically square or nearly square in plan with four equal-sized rooms in each corner. The type became popular in house building because it was practical and comfortable for the working and middle classes. These houses were inexpensive to build since they did not have any of the elaborate features such as turrets and turned ornament that were fashionable in the late 19th-century. The house is, usually, 2 to 2 1/2 stories tall, two to three bays wide, with a hipped or pyramidal roof, dormers, a full-width front porch with classical or squared-off columns and piers, and overhanging eaves. Plan book and catalog companies featured many Foursquare designs between 1900 and 1925.
The Bungalow is an informal house type that began in India and quickly spread to other parts of the world. Although it the United States they evolved during the Craftsman heritage, Bungalows may incorporate various other stylistic features. It became so popular after 1905 that it was often built in quantity by contractor/builders. Plan books and architectural journals published plans that helped popularize the type for homeowners and builders. Bungalows are one- or 1 1/2-story houses that emphasize horizontality. Basic characteristics usually include broad and deep front porches and low-pitched roofs, often with dormers. Exterior materials can be brick with cut stone trim, or frame. There are typically built-in Arts and Crafts features on the interior.
(1903 - 1940)
The Chicago Bungalow refers to a single-family residence-built between 1903 and 1940-with the following features: One and one-half stories; modern amenities including central heat, electric and plumbing; a low-pitched roof with overhang; generous windows; face brick with stone trim; brick construction; full basement; rectangular shape. The decorative elements that adorn most bungalows-such as stone planters and brackets, stone accents, exterior wood moldings and
trim-add great architectural interest and make the design of each home distinct.
A mid-century housing type that developed as a simplification of historic styles is the Minimal Traditional. Generally with a front facing gable section integrated with a longer section, eaves are small and architectural detail is at a minimum. This type of house was built in great numbers in the years immediately before and after World War II, especially in large tract-housing developments.
The Ranch house dates from 1932, when Cliff May, a San Diego architect, consciously created a building type that he called "the early California Ranch house." They were low-slung vernacular buildings that followed the contours of the land. Using the Spanish Hacienda or "rancho" as inspiration, May designed many Ranch houses throughout the West. Because of the Midwest's close association with Prairie School architecture, however, many Chicago-area Ranch houses owe much to the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, especially his "Usonian" houses of the 1930s. Ranch houses became popular in the late 1940s and 1950s, when the idea was widely published, and were built nationwide in suburban communities. Characteristics of a Ranch house include its wide, ground-hugging profile, low-pitched roof, and deep eaves. Due to the popularity of the car, the garage has a prominent position in the front of the house and is an integral part of the architecture of the Ranch house.
A difference can be seen between architect-designed Ranch houses and the mass-produced housing typically found in new post-World War II suburban subdivisions. There are basically two types of architect-designed Ranch houses: those without reference to historical styles, which are International Style or Contemporary, and those that take their designs from historical precedents. Contemporary Ranch houses are very simple, and tend to have hipped or gabled roofs and deep overhangs. International Style houses generally have flat roofs and a greater amount of glass. Some other Ranch houses clearly take design cues from previous historical styles, often incorporating Colonial details such as double-hung windows with shutters or classical elements such as rows of columns or front porticos.
The Split Level began to emerge as a popular housing type in the 1950s. It is characterized by a two-story section met at mid-height by a one-story wing. The three levels of space created in this type could correspond to family need for quiet living areas, noisy living areas, and sleeping areas.
Multi-directional shed roofs were used by architects and builders from about 1965 through the 1980s in a common type called Shed in this survey. Diagonal or vertical brown-stained wood siding and aluminum sliding windows were commonly used.
PLAN BOOK AND PRE-CUT CATALOG HOUSES
The introduction of plan book and pre-cut catalog homes brought new opportunities to home buyers who wanted the latest home styles and trends but could not afford an architect to design their new home. Builders or owners could purchase designs from a number of mail order companies who produced plans and designs, and pre-cut catalog companies provided the materials necessary for building the house. These houses were appealing to buyers: the houses could be chosen out of a catalog, were reasonably priced, and could be built on any site. Pre-cut catalog houses could be constructed rapidly since the materials were produced and sized at the catalog company's mills and shipped to the site. Sears, Roebuck and Company, Chicago, Illinois (1908-1940), was one of the most successful of the "pre-cut" catalog companies, selling over 30,000 houses by 1925 and nearly 50,000 by 1930. At the sales office, customers selected a plan from the many designs offered in the catalog. After an order was placed, a service representative was assigned, a construction manual provided, and a shipping schedule set up. Soon after, the owners would either hire local contractors to build the house or build the house themselves.
This section is republished with permission, slightly modified from a Chicago Focus to reference general links and resources for identifying and tracing the history of your home!
Special Thanks to: The Ridge Historical Society of Chicago, IL
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Special Feature Publication:
"ARCHITECTURAL STYLES AND TYPES IN BEVERLY HILLS-MORGAN PARK"
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