Saturday, December 03, 2005

Arcitectural Highlight: The Milwaukee Bungalow

"...The one or one and one-half story houses built in Milwaukee between c. 1902 and 1925* were...representative of the Bungalow Style, a link to the American Arts and Crafts tradition, which flourished briefly in the early years of the twentieth century. Although mass produced, many Milwaukee bungalows exhibited principles of good workmanship and the use of natural materials that were revered by the spokesmen of the craftsman movement."

"The Craftsman, a monthly magazine published between 1901 and 1916, promoted the ideals of editor Gustav Stickley, a Wisconsin-born designer Born March 9, 1858 in Osceola, Wisconsin, and the father of the the craftsman movement in America. Articles stressed the ideal of a democratic and functional architecture based on the integration of natural materials and forms, hand-made decorative arts, and naturalistic garden design. At the center of the craftsman philosophy was a concern for "home" and domestic life. The Craftsman encouraged the improvement of all aspects of domestic design, offering articles or advertisements for such items as "bungalow furniture" and wickerware, earthenware, table-runners, and hammered-copper bookends made by the Roycrofters of East Aurora, New York. Stickley and his followers were indebted to William Morris and the late nineteenth century English arts and Crafts tradition for the philosophy of a high standard of craftsmanship, and of design derived from natural forms intended to counter the new machine-oriented industrial order."

"The simple rustic house most often illustrated in The Craftsman and Stickley's books such as Craftsman Homes of 1909, was the bungalow. It took many forms, from Japanese pagoda to Swiss chalet, but usually maintained its low gabled roof, low, open front porch and large chimney mass."

"...Bungalow plans were available from architects, but also through mail order catalogues and many published sources. Even Sears, Roebuck and Company provided bungalow plans in their Modern Homes, a mail order plan book."

The Milwaukee bungalow was, in most cases, a modest home, but one that was carefully detailed and well constructed. The most common material used in Martin Drive Neighborhood was a clap board siding with fronts of varying styles including brick, stucco and stone, and "honesty" of construction was emphasized over any other design principle. On many frame examples, a jerkin-head gable roof was a common feature."

"Although bungalows were built as "infill" throughout the city, excellent concentrations existed on the East, Northwest, and West Sides. The larger house, built according to Craftsman principles, was found primarily on the East Side but also on Highland Blvd. near Washington Park. The design of the larger Craftsman house varied greatly, from somber, stuccoed, hipped-roof examples, to rustic, shingled gambrel-roofed examples. Natural materials, a general lack of historical references, and a spacious front porch were standard features, however."
- From The Martin Drive Neighborhood Association Website

The interiors of most Milwaukee Bungalows have the same basic floor plan - front entry or sunroom, living room across the front, dining room and one bedroom in the center, kitchen, central hall to the bath, master bedroom and the second bedroom at the rear. Through the kitchen would be a back hallway, with steps up to an infinshed half-story or down to the back door and basement.

The appeal of the Milwaukee Bungalow is often the extensive woodwork, hardwood floors, tile work, stained and/or leaded glass windows in the entry, living room, dining room and cabinet doors, natural or artificial (electric) fireplaces and ornimental plaster ranging from simple to highly detailed. Although the basic style is Arts and Crafts, many Milwaukee Bungalows have a mix Art Neuveau, Art Deco, Spanish or Tudor influences, beautifully crafted by the German builders.

*Many Milwaukee Bungalows were also built in the 1930's and 1940's in western Milwaukee suburbs, such as West Allis, West Milwaukee and Wauwatosa.

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