Tag Archives: U.S.

Friday Finds: Bungalows


This week I ended up in a section on Bungalows. I thought we might explore the diversity of examples and definitions provided by the various publications.  Starting with the definition provided by the Penguin, which defines bungalows thusly:

A detached, single-storey house in its own plot of land. The term first occurs in 1784 as an anglicization of the Hindu word ‘bangla‘ and was given to lightly constructed dwellings with verandas erected for English officials in mid-C19 Indian cantonments and hill stations. Later the term was used for similarly light, simply dwellings built as second homes in England and America. (pg. 77)

Harrison, Percival T. Bungalow Residences: A Handbook for All Interested in Building. London: Crosby Lockwood and Son, 1909.

Percival T. Harrison has a rather lengthy definition of bungalow. He too traces its origin back to India and like the Penguin’s definition allows for diversity. Harrison does, however, narrow the field at least in terms of the types of bungalows he intends to present:

No one would entertain for a moment the idea of erecting rows or even pairs of bungalows, because by so doing their principal charm, as well as their distinctive character, would be destroyed.

Bungalows costitute a distinct type of residence in themselves: they are erected for the most part at the seaside, or in the country in positions chosen for the quality of the air, or for the recreative facilities or other attractions, and it is an added pleasure if the site commands views of white cliff and restless sea, of verdure-clad hills or winding river, where, for a time at least, the rattle of the motor ‘bus may be forgotten, together with the many other obtrusive indications of the triumph of machinery, indispensable as such may be in these days of rush and hurry. (pg. 2-3)

Wilson, Henry L. The Bungalow Book: A Short Sketch of the Evolution of the Bungalow from its Primitive Crudeness to its Present State of Artistic Beauty and Cozy Convenience. 5th edition. Chicago: H. L. Wilson, 1910.

Henry L. Wilson provides a brief introduction to bungalows. He writes:

The Bungalow is a radical departure from the older styles of cottage, not only in outward appearance, but in inside arrangement. The straight, cold entrance hall and stiff, prim, usually darkened parlor have no place in it. Entrance is usually into a large living room- the room where the family gathers, and in which the visitor feels at once the warm, homelike hospitality. Everything in this room should suggest comfort and restfulness. The open fireplace and low, broad mantel, a cozy nook or corner, or a broad window seat, are all means to the desired end. Bookcases or shelves may be fitted into convenient places, and ceiling beams add an air of homely quaintness which never grows tiresome. (pg. 4)

The rest of the book is a catalog from which to purchase plans for your very own bungalow.

Saylor, Henry H. Bungalows: Their Design, Construction and Furnishing, with Suggestions also for Camps, Summer Homes and Cottages of Similar Character. New York: Robert M. McBride & Company, 1917.

Writing for an American audience, Henry H. Saylor attempts to define the characteristics of the bungalow in this country. Saylor argues that a bungalow must have a piazza and “at least one big fireplace in the living-room.” (pg. 11, 16-17) He argues further:

From the outside it is almost impossible to tell whether the building is a bungalow with dormers ventilating the upper part of its living-room or its attic, or whether it is a house. The final test, however, is in plan. Where the main sleeping-rooms are included on the first floor with the living-room, dining room and service quarters, the building is a bungalow. Where the sleeping-quarters are for the most part on the second floor, the building is a house instead. (pg. 45)

He identifies ten types of bungalows found in the U.S., to include: the Pasadena & Los Angeles type, the patio bungalow of Southern California, the Swiss Châlet, the Adirondack, the seacoast bungalow, and the Chicago type.

Phillips, R. Randall. The Book of Bungalows. 2nd edition. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922.

Randall R. Phillips acknowledges as well that bungalows come in many forms and serve many purposes; however, he ties his examples to class:

The plan of the bungalow will necessarily vary a good deal, according to the particular site on which it is proposed to be built, the use to which it is to be put, and the number of occupants…. Similarly, as the precise definition of the word “bungalow” as a one-storey house would include both the country cottager’s dwelling and the lodge keeper’s house, we should here have quite another arrangement of plan. But my interpretation of the bungalow in this book is expressly limited to the needs of one class- that middle class upon whose shoulders every new burden is thrust. (pg. 9)

Hastings, Alan, ed. Week-End Houses, Cottages and Bungalows. With an Introduction by Hugh Casson. Westminster: The Architectural Press, 1939.

No precise definition is provided for bungalows. Rather, the introduction provides advice about building a properly designed weekend home, whether cottage, house or bungalow. Hugh Casson writes:

The book is intended for those who could not endure the murk and confinement of a mediæval cot, even if they could find one going cheaply, and for those who prefer a home simply and directly planned to fit in with the informal life of a week-end party. For them, the only solution is to build, and they will find the excitement well worth the inevitable trouble and delay. (pg. 8)

The rest of the book is arranged by type: houses & cottages, foreign examples, and bungalows. The examples, included by the editor, are recent constructions, designed by architects. The example below is classified as a bungalow.

The Book of Bungalows as Recommended by the F.H.A. Victory Housing National Defense Program, 32 Beautiful Designs. St. Paul, Minn.: Home Plan Book Co., c1941.

Like Henry L. Wilson’s book, this publication is also a catalog of plans for bungalows that was distributed by Amos D. Bridge’s Sons of Hazardville, Conn. The company sold lumber, building supplies, and agricultural implements. This catalog was actually the one that inspired me to write the post. The houses remind me very much of my grandparents’ house in the midwest, which I would never have classified as a bungalow. In fact “The Crosby” is nearly the exact plan of their house.

Are some of these examples more successful as bungalows than others, or align more closely to your idea of a bungalow? What do you think and why?

Fleming, John, Hugh Honour, and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. 5th edition. London: Penguin, 1999.