Established in 2003, West Ridge Bungalow Neighbors is a voluntary group of neighbors in Chicago who desire to assist each other in preserving and appreciating the homes in our neighborhood; educating each other and the broader public in the value and the story of our neighborhood; and providing resources to each other to improve the quality of our homes, enrich our lives and assure our neighborhood's future.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Where it all began...

Anyone who has attended a WRBN meeting recently knows we've been slogging our way toward a Bungalow Historic District nomination. It feels like it's been years, because it has. With the help of many people, we've transcribed the 1930 Census for the area in question, which has changed several times during the process. A team of volunteers has photographed over 240 homes and a bunch of garages. We've spent hours at the UIC library looking at ancient building permits on microfiche, and even more hours sifting through all of this data and making sense out of it. And now - we're headed into home stretch. Really.

In honor of the near-completion of our District, our bungalow of the week (on the right hand side of this page) is 6527 N. Maplewood. This is the very first brick bungalow built in our district in 1919. Also built in 1919 at 6529 N. Rockwell is what we now know as a Bungalow Antecedent - not quite an "official" Chicago brick bungalow, but close enough. It's the stucco home shown in the photo above.
Another frame, single family home on a double lot at 6550 N. Rockwell was built by architect Benedict Bruns in 1919. Bruns designed bungalows all over the West Ridge, and this was his family home until 1927. You know the house, it's just south of the St. James Presbyterian church on at Rockwell and Albion, with the double lot and lovely gardens in the summer.
The fourth home built in our district in 1919 sadly is categorized as "Non-Contributing". It has been altered to the point of not being recognizable as a historic bungalow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bungalow, deconstructed

So, you might recall the September 18, 2007 post about the Art Enables organization. On the left is our finished bungalow portrait, you can click on it to see the detail.

I love this sort of flattened, deconstructed rendering, and the level of detail our artist Vanessa included. I laughed when I saw my least favorite part of the house lovingly illustrated - the 60s lannon stone filling in the place on our front porch wall where 3 stained glass windows used to be.

At the moment one of our cats has chosen the painting as his nap spot...time to get this into a frame!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday lights in the 1920s

The whimsical packaging on this 1920s set of lights suggests that in addition to Christmas trees, they may also be used for May Parties, the 4th of July and what appears to be quite the Thanksgiving day hoe-down (click on image to enlarge).
For more info on 1920s holiday lighting, visit this cool website.
And, don't forget our own holiday shindig. There will not be a December WRBN meeting, but mark your calendar now for our Saturday, January 12th WRBN members-only holiday party! Your $15.00 (per family) 2008 dues payment is your ticket to the food and festivities. Invitations are on the way...

Polish Christmas Celebration on 12/4/07

International Visitors Center of Chicago Annual Meeting & Holiday Party

Join the IVCC staff, Board of Directors and members for a Polish Christmas Vigilia Celebration! Tuesday, December 4, 2007 6:00-8:00pm, Polish Museum of America, 984 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 Enjoy the holiday exhibits including a turn-of- the-century replica of a traditional village hut and beautifully decorated Christmas trees.

The party will include Polish hors d'ouevres and desserts, wine and Polish holiday traditions including a Christmas Carol sing-along led by the museum staff! Mr. Jan Lorys, Director of the Museum (and WRBN member), will tell a special tale of Christmas in Poland!

Cost: IVCC Members, $25; Non-members, $30To RSVP, please contact Lexy Sobel by Friday, November 30th to (312) 254-1800 x102 or

Teco Pottery reproductions

Bring clean geometric shapes and rich color into your home with the Teco Art Pottery Collection™. The classic designs of the originals are maintained in these authentic reproductions of art pottery vases from the legendary 20th century studio. Made in the US with a water-tight, satin-finish glaze. Available from Room and Board. Read about the history of Teco Pottery here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Meet George S. May - West Ridge business founder and golfer extraordinaire

George S. May was born on a farm in Windsor, Ill., on June 5, 1890. Tilling the soil, however, held no attraction for the man who would become a management consulting pioneer. After four years of college, George S. May began his sales career selling bibles. Shortly thereafter, a friend, familiar with May's interest in mechanical and technical issues, offered him a job with a farm equipment manufacturer.

During the next decade, George S. May had to cope with the fluctuating economy of the early 1900s. He worked as a freelance consultant on a variety of short-term jobs, and was later hired for full-time work, but was laid off when economic conditions slowed.

By 1924, with a wife and family to care for, George S. May sent out letters to Chicago businesses, highlighting his knowledge and experience as a business problem solver. He obtained a consulting assignment with Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, the precursor of the Sunbeam Corporation, and with that first job, on February 1, 1925, the George S. May Company was born. The first May offices were located at 2620 W. Northshore, at the corner of Rockwell.

In addition to growing his own company, George S. May also contributed greatly to the game of golf. Now listed as one of Golf magazine's 100 heroes of American golf, George S. May staged a number of golf tournaments at his country club, Tam O' Shanter, throughout the 1940s and 50s. May is still lauded as one of golf's most preeminent promoters.

The George S. May International Company celebrated its 80th Anniversary in 2005 as the world's foremost management consulting firm to medium and small businesses, as well as large companies through the firm's major accounts program. Since its founding in 1925, the George S. May International Company has kept its focus on assisting companies to improve their business operations.

The history of the George S. May International Company is the history of business in the 20th Century. It is also the history of one of the nation's more successful family-owned companies.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Upcoming WRBN meetings and events

Who are these guys? On Tuesday, November 13, Maribeth will present a slide show on the architectural history of Devon Avenue. Learn who the movers and shakers were during the early development of Devon, and how this important commercial district grew and changed over the years. Join us at 7:00 p.m. at the Northtown Public Library.

There will not be a December meeting, but mark your calendar now for our Saturday, January 12th members-only holiday party! Your $15.00 (per family) 2008 dues payment is your ticket to the food and festivities.

Window restoration

The time comes in the life of every old home owner when they must make the decision - replace, restore or weatherstrip the living daylights out of their old windows. Click here to read how our neighbors Jo Stavig & Steve Knoebber dealt with their bungalow windows and for resources for your own restoration.

Oh, and by the way - "replace" is not an option from either an environmental or preservation point of view. Click here to read the HCBA brief on window care. Also, here's a cool product called The Silent Paint Remover that might make your restoration work a little less painful.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Field Trip this Saturday!

It's not too late to sign up for our field trip! On Saturday morning we’ll head out to Elk Grove Village for a members-only field trip to the Island Girl Salvage showroom Contact Jo or Maribeth for more details.

Home maintenance tips from Clark Devon

Clark Devon Hardware offers free classes in home maintenance topics that you might be interested in. See their class schedule for more details.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A glimpse into the past

At the corner of Talman and Albion is a lovely, large bungalow built for the Malones by the Rance family of developers in the 1920s. Today it sits abandoned and covered by overgrown shrubs, with many of the original features remarkably intact.

If anyone knows who owns this place, please show them this photo. Perhaps they'll be inspired.

Monday, September 24, 2007


This year we thought we'd invest in a new winter hat for our bungalow, size XXL. Here's Chris, one of the crew from All Comfort Insulation and the equipment they use to blow the fluffy pink stuff into our attic floor.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Looking for a unique gift idea?

How about a portrait of your bungalow?

Art Enables , located in Washington DC , will connect you with one of their outsider artists who will in turn create a work of art from your photo. Their prices are very reasonable, and you'll feel good knowing you're supporting a worthy cause.

This work is by artist John Simpson, who makes amazingly detailed mixed-media works of buildings and streetscapes.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

25 historic sites compete for $1 million in rehab funds

Is that a good thing? Click here for the full story and cast your vote for the most deserving historic site which range from the Robie House to a bungalow in the Independence Park neighborhood. You're allowed to vote once a day, so in the great Chicago tradition, vote early and often!
Most 25 of the sites are holding open houses on Sept. 15 & 16 - it's a great way to see some of the treasures of Chicago architecture.
As of this post this post, the #1 site is the On Leong Merchant Association building located in in Chinatown. It's recognized for its colorful terra-cotta detailing and pagoda-style roof.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Green bungalow seminars set


Looking to limit increases to your heating and cooling bills? Interested in bringing the latest in green building technology to your Chicago bungalow? "Greening Your Chicago Bungalow" seminars will be presented next week at North Side and South Side locations.

Green Home Partners will outline the most important aspects of rehabbing for energy-efficiency, highlighting the latest in green building products and money-saving tips.
The procedures range from simple tasks (like the installation of a programmable thermostat) to large-scale projects (like solar and geothermal systems).

The program will be presented at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted, and at 7 p.m. Thursday at Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln. Each seminar should take about two hours.

The Historic Chicago Bungalow & Green Home Expo, scheduled for Oct. 27 at the Merchandise Mart, also will offer products, services and expertise for bungalow and other homeowners to complete green renovations.

If you have any questions or want to make a reservation at a seminar, please call the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association, (312) 642-9900, or send an e-mail to:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Marion Mahony Griffin - The Magic of America

News from The Art Institute of Chicago:

The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries are extremely pleased to announce the publication in electronic form of The Magic of America, Marion Mahony Griffin's autobiography and her biography of her husband, Walter Burley Griffin.

The digital facsimile, the electronic text and its scholarly apparatus can be found at .Marion Griffin's vast unpublished manuscript of 1400 pages and over 600 illustrations, which she donated to the Libraries in 1949 (she also donated drawings now in the Department of Architecture and Design), recounts her life in architecture and that of her architect husband in Chicago, Australia, and India from the 1890s through the 1930s.

It provides an extraordinary window into the architectural world of Chicago in the early years of the 20th century, where both Mahony and Griffin worked in the office of Frank Lloyd Wright and independently; Australia, where W.B. Griffin won the design competition for the new national capital of Canberra in 1912 and where the Griffins lived and worked up to 1935; and India, where Walter Griffin experienced a final brief period of creativity until his death in 1937. The document is also replete with social, philosophical, and personal content of great interest to many different audiences.

Reminder - Expo on Saturday, October 27

Historic Chicago Bungalow and Green Home Expo
Join the HCBA and the City of Chicago at this yearly event, which brings specialized vendors, educational workshops and services to homeowners and potential buyers. 10am-4pm at the Merchandise Mart.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Upcoming WRBN meetings and events

Greetings, Bungalow Neighbors!

Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 11, at 7:00 at the Northtown Public Library. Speaker Ray Miller is a real estate professional with Keller Williams Realty and lives in a bungalow on Talman in West Ridge. You’ve seen the scary headlines about the real estate market slowdown and the mortgage credit crisis. Ray will update us on the current local market for buyers and sellers of bungalows. It’s sure to be an informative evening!

On Saturday, October 20, we’ll head out to Elk Grove Village for a members-only field trip to the Island Girl Salvage showroom. Details will follow as the date nears, but in the meantime visit the website:

On Tuesday, November 13, Maribeth will present a slide show on the architectural history of Devon Avenue. Learn who the movers and shakers were during the early development of Devon, and how this important commercial district grew and changed over the years. Join us at 7:00 p.m. at the Northtown Public Library.

There will not be a December meeting, but mark your calendar now for our Saturday, January 12th members-only holiday party!

See you in September!
Jo & Maribeth

Sunday, August 26, 2007

WRBN summer field trip

Pictured is the Walter O. Salmon house, designed by Walter Burley Griffin and built in 1912. On Saturday WRBN members were treated to a private tour of the home. (To view more Griffin homes, click here.) We all had a great time seeing the Garlows in Chatham, visiting the Ridge Historical Society and chowing down at Top Notch Beef Burger in Beverly.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Music to dry off by...

It's been a little rainy here in Chicago this week...let's all sing along as we pick the tree branches off of our cars and dry out our basements!
Sheet music circa 1927.

Spend A Night at the Opera (Lofts) with Preservation Chicago

Want to see where the real Sopranos hung their hats? This is the place. Gargantuan sets, elaborate costumes, props, backdrops – this is where they were all designed, constructed and stored for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Built between 1912 and 1924, it was the world’s largest scene studio and warehouse. Using every brick original to the structure, it’s currently being transformed into “The Opera Lofts,” high-end living space as unique as the building itself.

Date: Friday, September 28, 2007
Time: 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Where: The Opera Lofts2545 South Dearborn Street

Visit the Opera Lofts website for more information on this historic building, and visit the Preservation Chicago website to purchase tickets for the event.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

August 25 - From Garlows to Griffin

Greetings, Bungalow Neighbors!

What the heck is a Garlow? How do I get to see the inside a Walter Burley Griffin house? What are the bungalows in Beverly like? Where's the best hamburger joint in Chicago?

For answers to these questions, sign up for our Saturday 8/25 WRBN tour of the Beverly Hills Neighborhood (with a stop enroute in Chatham). This tour is for current WRBN members only!

If you'll be driving and are able to take passengers, or if you'll need a ride, please let us know. Maps will be provided.

Noon. Our tour begins at the corner of 80th and King Drive in Chatham on the south side. Three blocks of little houses in the heart of Chatham were the1920s brain child of developer Richard Cramer. Cramer built small “Garlows”, or "Garage Bungalows” at the rear of the lots. These "starter homes" were designed to ease the path to home ownership. As the owners became more prosperous, larger bungalows could be built in front, and the Garlows would then be converted to garages. From there we'll drive to Beverly.

1:00 - 1:15 p.m. Gather for lunch at Top Notch Burger, 2116 W. 95th St. Some say it's the best burger in Chicago!

2:30 p.m. We'll convene at the nearby Ridge Historical Society, 10621 S. Seeley Ave., for an overview of neighborhood history followed by a walking tour tailored to our interests, led by HS Board Member Linda Lamberty, around this historic area. Highlights may include two Frank Lloyd Wright designs, other Prairie School houses, and lots of bungalows, of course.

4:30 p.m. Our final stop will be an exclusive private tour of the Walter Burley Griffin residence of Kent and Michelle Lamberty on Walter Burley Griffin Place (104th), a Chicago Historic Landmark District.

We'll then head back to our own glacial ridge on the far north side.

Jo and Maribeth

(To sign up for the tour or for details on becoming a member, email Maribeth at xxx.)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Welcome to the dollhouse

Here's an interesting website that features dollhouses and their furnishings produced in the late 1920s. It's a glimpse of what might have been in your bungalow when it was new.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

When the mansions come, there goes the neighborhood

When the mansions come, there goes the neighborhood
By Robert Hughes
The Chicago Tribune

August 5, 2007

I took a drive the other day through the suburb where I grew up and found myself, disoriented, on Teardown Avenue. Shrek-size edifices had replaced the modest homes of my youth. Venti-size movie sets -- you couldn't really call them "houses" -- had changed the landscape not just of the town but of my memory as well.

A leafy lane of well-tended but unpretentious homes that had once seemed a comforting replica of a New England village was now a wild clash of fantasies.One house was oversize Prairie School. Another was oversize Tudor. The next, a full-size British country house. No longer a residential street, the lane was now Disneyland: Adventureland here, Frontierland there, and the World of Tomorrow next door. Imagine the real estate version of a multiplex showing wildly different movies -- a western, a vampire flick, a costume drama, a medieval epic.

Homes whose style suggested gentry or aristocracy and demanded to be set amid acres of grounds and gardens instead sat nearly atop one another. Their styles and sizes suggested closed-off worlds of suburban country squires intent on ignoring their neighbors.

In fact, it was hard to imagine the people living in these places as "neighbors" at all. Does a countess dash next door to borrow a cup of sugar? And if she did, how would the duchess, who happens to live in a replica of the Library of Congress, respond?
Just what are people doing in those big houses? Middle-class families are smaller than they were in the 1960s, but these houses imply families of 10 or 12 people.

When I lived in this town in the 1960s, there were six children in our family. We had two bathrooms and four bedrooms. But all of us, seemingly all the time, gathered in the basement in front of the TV.

Like a lot of 1960s homes, ours had an unused "living room," a small anthropological exhibit of how families think they should live but don't. There might as well have been a docent giving a running commentary: "Look at that big chair over there. That's where father would be reading if father read. See that piano? That's where the family would gather to sing along to mother's playing, if mother played and the family sang."

So how many unused rooms must there be in these new, grandiose productions?As I drove home, I tried to calm down. After all, how dreadful would this mushrooming ostentation seem if my city college teacher's salary were suddenly multiplied by 10?

To tell the truth, I've got a fantasy house or two in my own head. And am I not, like the counts and dukes of the suburbs, always trying to be mentally elsewhere? They have their manses. We have the Internet, our audiobooks, even TV, to take us Anywhere But Here.

So I resolved to see it all with some perspective -- and fantasize about the teardowns coming in the 22nd Century.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Why we love old buildings

I received this email from a friend who lives near the apartment building being demolished at 6425 of N. Rockwell and thought it was a nice tribute:

I'm sure you have both been down the road to see the building...

It's been quite a sight watching them tear it down - very sad thinking of all the people who have lived there through the 80 something years, all the voices that have echoed through the halls, the birthdays and funerals, all the footsteps that have gone up and down the stairs, all the smells of all the different cooking...

I think since I have lived here there were Irish, Jewish, Romanians, Filipinos, Gypsies, African Americans, Mexicans, Indians and Pakistanis - everyone coming to give the American Dream a go!

Now it sits in ruin -just a ghost. I guess that's what they call progress! (Gulp!)

And now what? Do you remember when they paved over Downtown Chicago and State Street was a mall?

God only knows whose bright idea that was- I truly believe this will be as bad as paving over downtown - the people will quit coming because there will no longer be the lure of the marketplace, the air of being with people enjoying themselves, the liveliness and feeling of being a part of something, all the street fairs and fests that they had there - it will all be gone, hidden behind more concrete...

I guess I'm a child of the 70's because I just keep
thinking of that Joni Mitchell song about putting up a Parking Lot -

The neighborhood becomes a lesser place...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

West Ridge Winners!

Congrats to West Ridge neighbors the Millers and Martins, both are 2007 HCBI / Driehaus award winners!

Dan and Michelle Miller took the top award for the beautiful exterior rehab they completed on their Talman bungalow.

Beth and Ken Martin won honorable mention for their woodland garden, see details in the following post.

Bungalow Gardens and Window Boxes

It's not just stained-glass repair and woodwork refinishing that get the attention of the Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative, which works to encourage the preservation and restoration of the classic style of brick homes found all over Chicago. They also honor landscaping. This year Lyndie & Matthew Sherman won a top Driehaus award from the initiative for creating a small formal garden where there once was a back-yard pool.

Beth and Ken Martin (photo at top, also proprietors of two rain barrels and a worm compost bin) won an honorable mention for planting woodland gardens to replace grass in their front and back yards.

The bungalow initiative's Web site is a font of information and sources for green and historic remodeling, much of it interesting to owners of other old houses or anybody interested in remodeling.

Speaking of sprucing up, see the window boxes on the Martins' house? That's what those mysterious stone projections are that you see sticking out of the fronts of so many bungalows: They are brackets for window boxes. Most of the boxes are long gone. But when they are there and well-planted, what a difference they make!

Unfortunately, it takes a loooong window box, much longer than you can pick up at the local home center. Octagon bungalows like the Martins' have a combination of three boxes, but some bungalows have brackets for a single box all across the front of the house.

Such a sizable box is likely to be a custom item and can be pricey. It needs to be strong and well-built. Finding just the right one is a great source of frustration to Chicago bungalow devotees.
Before you start shopping, measure your brackets. And it also might be a good idea, before you place an order, to cut out the silhouette of the window box in cardboard to scale, set it on the brackets and step back to make sure you like the look. The mockup will help you decide on just the right length. You could even paint it to help decide on a color.

Urban Prairie Planters in West Ridge makes wooden flower boxes designed for the bungalow brackets and can custom-make other planters. Call Jo Stavig at 773-743-4386 or e-mail them at

Another material for boxes is polystyrene, which is plastic but can be painted with latex paint. Check them out at or has fiberglass window boxes up to 6 feet long. None of these is exactly in the Prairie-cum-Arts-and-Crafts style of the original boxes that came with the houses in the 1920s, but if you choose a restrained and simple one you might be satisfied.

This post is part of The Chicago Gardener, a blog of the Chicago Tribune. See more posts on container gardening here. For information on the Tribune Home&Garden section's Glorious Gardens contest, click here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

2007 Bungalow and Green Expo in October

From the Chicago Sun-Times

July 20, 2007

Oct. 27 has been selected as the date for the 2007 Historic Chicago Bungalow and Green Home Expo at the Merchandise Mart.

Visitors to the expo will have access to 150 vendors and 15 seminars focused on historic home restoration and green building technology. Information will be available on loans and grants for home buying and rehabbing through the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association and the City of Chicago's Department of Housing.

Exhibitors will be on hand to advise residents on projects such as restoring wood windows, upgrading wiring, and plumbing and installing a rain garden. Owners of Chicago bungalows who bring photographs of their homes will also be able to certify their bungalows on the spot with the HCBA (the first step to taking advantage of the group's financial incentives). Workshops at the event will provide details about home rehab, restoration and permits.

The show was created in 2002 as the Historic Chicago Bungalow Expo, and it was expanded in 2006 to include green home renovation resources.

"The Historic Chicago Bungalow and Green Home Expo offers residents the tools and resources necessary to purchase their first home, restore a historic house, or incorporate green building techniques into their renovation projects," said Annette Conti, executive director of the HCBA. "We are excited to again partner with the City of Chicago's Departments of Housing and Environment to encourage residents to be green, as energy-efficiency means long-term affordability for homes."

Admission is free. A Brown Line CTA station brings passengers right to the Merchandise Mart. Hours for the event will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visit, or call (312) 642-0999.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

WRBN update

Greetings Bungalow Neighbors,

Believe it or not, this is the 4th year of WRBN! We've all learned so much and met great neighbors who have become friends.

We are, however, at a crossroads. Halfway through 2007 we have fewer than 10 households who are paid members. In order to continue WRBN we need your support both as paid members, and also in recruiting new members.

We kicked off 2007 with a great party at the Concaildi's award-winning bungalow. And we've had great speakers this year:

  • Landscape designer David Gianneschi on bungalow landscaping and small space gardening
  • A hands-on insulation session in a bungalow, led by John Carroll of All Comfort Insulation
  • House in Progress bloggers Jeannie and Aaron Olson on forming a high-tech bungalow community while rehabbing their bungalow
  • Architect Chris Turley on how to add living space without destroying historic integrity

    And we've got lots more planned:
  • August tbd joint outing with the Northtown Garden Society to the Chicago Center for Green Technology
  • August 25 Members Only Saturday field trip to look at the Bungalows of Beverly. . and Beyond
  • September 11 A realtor's take on the bungalow real estate market in 2007
  • Oct 20 Members Only Saturday field trip to Island Girl architectural salvage showroom
  • Nov 13 The history of Devon Avenue and the neighborhoods around it

    How can you help? If you haven't already done so, please drop off a $15.00 check to Ann Glapa at 2601 W. Farwell if you'd like to attend any members only events. And spread the word! We'll be emailing a flyer with meeting details and membership information that can be distributed to your neighbors.

    Best regards,
    Jo Stavig and Maribeth Brewer
    WRBN Co-chairs

Thursday, July 5, 2007

How we became West Ridge

From the October 17, 1963 Chicago Tribune

Residents of the Far North Side neighborhood of West Ridge are more likely to tell you they live in North Town or West Rogers Park.

The official name of the community of 61,129 is nearly as old, though, as the hill that marks its eastern border at Ridge Avenue. The neighborhood is bounded on the north by Howard Street , on the west by the North Shore Channel and Kedzie Avenue and on the south by Peterson and Bryn Mawr Avenues.

Though originally settled in the 1830s by Phillip Rogers, West Ridge was never really part of Rogers Park. Clashes with its eastern neighbor and nearby Evanston led to West Ridge's incorporation as a village in 1890, accoring to yellowed Tribune clippings tracing development of the Far North Side.

The independence was short-lived however. West Ridge was incorporated into the City of Chicago three years later.

A realtor's view of West Ridge Bungalows

Here's a link to a relator who is highlighting West Ridge Bungalows on her website. It has some nice panoramic photos, you'll recognize some of your neighbor's homes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

R.I.P, 6425 N. Rockwell

The lot is fenced, the backhoe is waiting in the wings and this 80 year old building is headed to the landfill. Maybe it will end up next to the remains of the Nortown Theater. Say goodbye to another piece of West Ridge history.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Are you registered?

Yesterday I was out shooting what I hope are the final photos for our Talman Historic District nomination - bungalow garages. One owner was very nice about letting me into his back yard to shoot the pretty yard side of his garage, shown in photo.

I asked him if he had registered his place, and he said no, someone told him if you registered, the HCBA dictated what you could or couldn't do with your home. This is not true. The HCBA provides guidelines that they suggest you follow to preserve the integrity of your historic home, but there are no bungalow police who will swoop in if you decide to do a purple roof and put deer statuary in the front yard. Not that I recommend either of those things.

The HCBA website offers
online registration, and once you've been certified you are eligible to apply for their various grants and loans. Yes, there are some requirements that need to be met to qualify for the money, but they are reasonable and practical and in the long run will make your home more attractive and energy efficient. All good things to work toward.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Richard Nickel

It was my turn for jury duty today. I headed down to 26th & California with my summons and a big bag of library books to help pass time. The one I really wanted to read was Richard Nickel's Chicago: Photographs of a Lost City by Richard Cahan and West Ridge resident Michael Williams.

If you have any interest in Chicago architecture and / or preservation, you've probably already read this book. I'm about a year behind due to the activities around the past election here in the 50th Ward. If you haven't read it, put it on your list.

It's maddening in 2007 to continue to see our history being torn down around us. I can only begin to imagine what it was like for Nickel - one man trying to save the masterpieces of Adler & Sullivan.

"From one of the most distinguished cities architecturally we are rapidly moving toward anonymity, or, what is worse, a city of contrast: the superficial glitter of the new mixed with the slum of the old." - Richard Nickel
He's my hero.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


...and very soon to be gone. After years of neglect and decay, a permit for demolition of the Nortown Theater was issued on June 7. Driving by this morning, it appeared that work has already begun.

The developer's plans call for construction of a five story condo and commercial building in its place. Unlike the high quality brick masonry construction going up throughout the city, this project will be primarily painted cast-in-place concrete.

Although the development will include parking for the condos (just under one space per unit), it will not provide any parking for the commercial space due to a generous manipulation of the zoning requirements by Alderman Stone.

Another sad day in the 50th Ward, and another piece of West Ridge history headed to the landfill.

Monday, June 11, 2007

June 12th Meeting - Goats and Gods

Greetings, Bungalow Neighbors!

Reminder that our June 12 meeting, 7 pm at the Northtown Library, will feature architect Chris Turley on ways to add living space to your bungalow.

Chris' presentation, entitled Goats & Gods: A Study of Bungalow Additions Done Wrong & Right, was given at the Sulzer Library in April as part of the HCBA seminar series. It's full of great information, and is extremely entertaining at the same time. Chris includes West Ridge examples of bungalow additions in his slide show; some that maintain the character of the bungalow, as well as some that do not.

See you Tuesday!

Maribeth and Jo

Friday, June 8, 2007

The next Chicago teardown - Saturday June 9th

I look at this place and just have to ask "why?". It seems fine and in fact was newly rehabbed. The up side is that the entire house is potentially being recycled. Visit for more information and to find out how you can literally have a piece of it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Gallup, New Mexico

Last week I spent 4 days in Gallup, NM and the surrounding area. I wasn't exepecting bungalows in this little town, but there they were. This was a business trip focused on buying Native American jewelry and visiting with an Antelope Chief in Hopi Land ( I love my job!). Next time I'll check out more of this part of Gallup as well as a bungalow neighborhood I spotted on the way to the airport in Albuquerque.

Monday, May 21, 2007

June 3rd Protest Rally to Save Lake Shore Athletic Club!

Only in Chicago do we strut our architectural prowess in front of the 2016 Olympic Committee...then allow the wrecking ball to deliver a sucker punch to an Orange-rated architectural heavyweight - and one that's an Olympic legacy, at that!*

A demolition permit has been applied for. Time to send a message to the Powers That Be: The Lake Shore Athletic Club must be landmarked, not only to save the building...but to show the world we're a city that reveres its formidable historic architecture. Not pummels it into oblivion.

Date: Sunday, June 3, 2007
Time: 1:00 pm
Where: 850 North Lake Shore Drive at Chestnut Street
(in front of the Lake Shore Athletic Club)
Dress in your favorite athletic gear:
running shorts, sweats, swimsuit, tennis outfit, whatever - or come as you are. Your fighting spirit is what counts!

* Find out more about the Lake Shore Athletic Club at

Can't make it to the rally?
Voice your concern to Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)
Please contact him at
312-277-1009 fax

Jonathan Fine,
Preservation Chicago

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Neighbors in the news

Click here to read the Sun-Times article about Beth and Ken Martin and their place on Coyle along with several other Chicago Bungalow owners:,CST-NWS-bungalownew18.article

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Shingles & Skylights & Boilers & Bricks - Oh My!

I was going through some older email and thought I'd share this with you - the story of a remodel that took place last spring, written by a WRBN member. Enjoy...

I am sending this update to all of you because you have all influenced where we are in our Bungalow Extravaganza ... and we sincerely thank you for your involvement. Please feel free to weigh in on any of the following.

SHINGLES I think we have a roofer! Tim Costello of Albany Improvements - a HCBA resource. He comes highly recommended and I was very impressed with his estimate process. Marty Ostrowski of Connoisseur was also very impressive and highly recommended but more expensive than we can afford given the scope of our Extravaganza. Lindholm Roofing, very nice and informative, was an in-between bid. Allendorfer did not return my call for over 10 days. Jack Taff Roofing called back and said they'd look at the roof sometime last week. Never heard from them again. We will evaluate whether to go with the original wood soffits (as opposed to aluminum) after the tear-off.

SKYLIGHTS Our plan right now is to put in 3 (15 1/4 x 46 1/4) Velux skylights. These will fit within our 18" rafters without need to alter the rafters. However this size only comes in the fixed form - meaning they can't be opened. I thought this might be a mistake until I looked again at the brochure. The photos of opened windows looked like open doorways for squirrels and birds to me. I think we'll put in a couple of ceiling fans (along with the power vent) instead. One skylight will go in the front room and two skylights will be close together (18 inches apart ?) in the darkest part of the back room.

BOILERS Cahill never showed up for our appointment. When I called, my contact sounded a little out-of-it. I decided not to reschedule. Horst of William Stoker came out last week and we spent over an hour exploring the possibilities. He's very nice and this was very informtive. Al from A&M called and left a message. I returned his call that night and left a message with his answering service. I never heard from him again. An estimate arrived from Stoker yesterday, but after having just met with Crafton, I could not bring myself to open it until this morning. We will need to get a couple more bids. I have not yet contacted A1 Peerless - recommended by a neighbor. Another possibility is Chicago Unique Indoor Comfort - listed in the HCBA resource guide. Also listed HVAC & Geotech Systems. This looks like an electric system that I know nothing about.

BRICKS Spent over an hour with Jack Tomcyzk of Crafton yesterday evaluating our masonry. LOTS need to be done here. The front (wall-banister - what is the name of this part of the house ?) needs to be rebuilt with many bricks to be replaced. We need to work with original facing brick in order to maintain the beauty of our bungalow ... according to Jack - and we agree. That means using brick from the chimney (if the bricks can be properly cleaned) and possibly even the garage! :- [ Lot's of other work needs to be in other areas, too. But for now, the chimney is step number one - before roofing work can be done. Jack is supposed to call with numbers on the chimney and present a written proposal for the rest of the work. Will we get competitive bids ? What are our other options ?

Oh, My! I woke up today at 3:45 AM and was not very successful at getting back to sleep - HIGH ANXIETY ! At times I feel fairly excited about how great things will be when work is finished - and at other times I feel so overwhelmed ... how will we ever manage to get these things finished AND pay for them ?!?

More, Oh, My! The squirrels seemed to be having a family reunion in our home for Mother's day and the little piles of 'dirt' along the wall in the basement are not related to bricks ... Jack suspects insects !!! - enough of urban wildlife. Okay, that's it. I still haven't begun our income taxes and we really do need the refund.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Third Annual Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards - June 8th deadline

Each year, the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation honor homeowners whose work demonstrates the best bungalow landscaping, rehabilitation and restoration projects.

It is a juried competition with the panel of judges composed of neighborhood development community members, architects, horticulturalists and representatives of the local media. Nominees are judged on the overall visual impression, the creative design solution, and how well the project maintains the integrity of the Historic Chicago Bungalow.

Each year we've had winners from West Ridge (does that garden photo look familiar?)
Nominate your Chicago Bungalow today - Deadline is Friday, June 8. If selected, site visits will be scheduled on Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30 2007. Go to for an application. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Talman bungalow for sale by owner

6735 N Talman
Chicago, IL 60645
Asking price $420,000

3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom
· 42 inch maple cabinets with kitchen island
· Black granite counter tops and backsplash
Recessed lighting in kitchen and living room
Large living room with lots of windows
Separate dining room with french doors
Beautifully redone hardwood floors
Crown molding
Expandable attic and full basement
Great storage on main floor

Household Improvements within the Last Year

Glass block windows installed
Replaced toilet

Light fixtures
Replaced light fixtures in entry vestibule and entry hall

Granite countertops and backsplash
Undermount stainless steel sink
Stainless steel faucet
Kitchen island with granite top
Garbage disposal installed
Replaced all cabinet hardware

Living room
Wired for cable television

Replaced shower faucet and showerhead
Replace sink faucet

Installed electric garage door opener

Added perennials to backyard
Removed dead bushes and replaced landscaping in front yard

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Taming the Teardown Trend in Edgewater

The National Trust has a series of great publications. This one, titled Taming the Teardown Trend seems particularly relevant to me this week.

On Tuesday I had a phone call from a local reporter who had been contacted by a woman who lives in Edgewater. She explained that there was a bungalow teardown pending on Olive Street and a woman was seeking support to stop it. She wanted to know if I could talk to her.

I called this woman, Mary Ann, and had a long conversation about what's going on. The story was all too familiar. A developer has purchased a 1914 frame bungalow in a block of homes all built in the same style and designed by architect Nels Buck and has plans to tear it down. In its place will be a new hulking structure that will literally cast shadows on the remaining homes. The neighbors are not happy.
There are 2 heroes in this saga - the first is Mary Ann. She's doing the hard work of rallying and educating her neighbors (and herself) in a very short time period to fight the teardown. She's smart, calm and determined. She's done her homework, learned about zoning, and has built a good support group.

Which leads me to our second hero - 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O'Connor. O'Connor brought the Olive Street neighbors together with the developer and asked the developer to consider rehabbing the home rather than tearing it down. He said if that wasn't possible, the architect needed to come back with a scaled-down version of the new structure.

I'll keep you posted on how this unfolds. In the meantime, swing by the 1700 block of Olive Street to check out these little frame bungalows. Also, consider contacting Alderman O'Connor to thank him for working with his constituents to preserve the character of this Chicago neighborhood. It doesn't happen often enough.

Our Indian Roots

A bungalow (Gujarati: બંગલો baṅglo, Hindi: बंगला baṅglā) is a type of single-story house. The word derives from the Gujarati word baṅglo, which in turn came from Hindi baṅglā. It means "Bengali", used elliptically for a "house in the Bengal style".[1] Such houses were traditionally small, only one story, thatched and had a wide veranda.[2] Bungalows today are a type of house that is usually single story or one and a half stories, and can be quite large.
In India, the term bungalow refers to any single-family unit (i.e., a house), as opposed to an apartment building, which is the norm for Indian middle-class city living. The Indian usage is different from the North American usage insofar as a bungalow can be a quite large, multi-storied building which houses a single extended family. In India, owning a bungalow is a highly significant status symbol.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

View photos of vintage bungalows in India here:

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Wilmette Historical Society House Tour, Sunday May 20

Spring House Walk: "Turning the Century"
Sunday, May 20, 2007, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Click on thumbnails above to view full-size images

Four distinctive Wilmette homes will be showcased this year as part of the Wilmette Historical Society's 2007 Spring Housewalk. These gracious homes are either nearing or have surpassed the 100-year old mark and each has a unique and rich history that will be the focal point of this year’s Housewalk.

“Two of the four homes featured in the Housewalk this year highlight the architectural style and history of the American Foursquare,” notes Wilmette architect and housewalk committee member Healy Rice. “Wilmette has some wonderful examples of this very American style.” Our third Housewalk home is unique in that it was built in the Italianate style in 1873 and then completely remodeled in 1923 to resemble a Foursquare, with the removal of a small round central window at the top of the house as well as any exterior ornamental brackets and cornices. Updating an older home was also the challenge for the owners of the Craftsman Bungalow, the fourth home to be featured in the Housewalk. In 2006, the Wilmette Historic Preservation Commission awarded the owners the “White Knight Award” in recognition of their rescue and restoration of this historic structure.

Advance tickets are $40/members; $45/non-members and $25/students. On the day of the Housewalk, tickets can be purchased at the Wilmette Historical Museum, 609 Ridge Road, for $45/members $50/non-members and $25 students. Phone the Museum for tickets or information at 847-853-7666.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Salvaging architectural materials from old houses and commercial buildings has been a thriving business for years, but Falk and Guy are among the first to explain the process for the average homeowner and catalog the various tools of the trade. Numerous color photographs detail how houses are salvaged, painstakingly, to preserve all reusable materials, including hardware, woodwork, flooring, tiles, bathtubs, doors and windows.This is a book designed for people who want to tackle such a project themselves or supervise someone they have hired for the job. There are schematics, numerous safety tips, including warnings about now-banned toxins that may linger in very old housing materials, and suggestions for storage and rehabilitating treasures that have been damaged. --Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Berwyn Bungalow Tour on June 3, 2007

The Berwyn Historical Society invites you to participate in “Historic Berwyn’s Bungalow Tour” to be held on Sunday June 3, 2007 — from noon to 5 pm.

May 12th & 13th Arts and Crafts Show

Arts and Crafts Chicago Show and Sale will feature furniture and accessories from the American and English Arts and Crafts Movement (1890-1920). Homeowners interested in acquiring pieces and/or educating themselves as to the appropriate furnishings for their turn of the century bungalows and craftsman style homes should come to the Geiseman Gym on the campus of Concordia University in River Forest Illinois Saturday, May 12th from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Sunday, May 13th from 11:00 AM –4:00 PM. Admission is only $7.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wright Plus house tour... beautiful and historic Oak Park, Illinois, on Saturday, May 19, 2007. The 33rd annual Wright Plus benefit housewalk features rare interior tours of architecturally significant homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and his contemporaries.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Greening, part 2

From: A Fresh Squeeze

The clocks have been reset, the Easter eggs have been found, and whether the weather agrees with us or not, Spring has arrived. Time to get your house—and garden—in order. But while you’re busy with home improvements, why not improve your health and the planet’s as well? Green building has been proven to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption, while improving occupants’ health and performance. Whether your project is large or small, Greenmaker Supply can help you find the eco-friendly products for the job. As co-founder Joe Silver puts it, “it’s a one stop shop for all your energy-efficient, water-efficient and healthy interior, non-toxic products.” At the 2500 North Pulaski Rd store, you'll find low VOC paints, recycled countertop tiles, bamboo flooring, natural fertilizers, and energy saving appliances—even installation made from old blue jeans. Greenmaker Supply’s “Seven Seeds of Sustainability” code makes it easy to decipher the eco-benefits of products. And the knowledgeable staff can help homeowner and developer alike. Silver says that 70% of the store’s inventory is competitively priced with conventional products, and “as our volume goes up, expect the price to continually drop.” Currently there’s only one location, but Silver and his partner Ori Sivan are looking to expand. “We want to bring these new alternatives to the mainstream, to bring them to your doorstep.” Perhaps with time, it’ll be a fly-ash concrete doorstep, surrounded by a naturally pest-free garden. To learn more about green building and its benefits, visit the US Green Building Council. For more information on Greenmaker Supply, check out their website, where you can browse their products and learn more about their Seven Seeds of Sustainability.

Greening your Bungalow

Green Bungalow Model Block:

The Green Festival comes to Chicago for Earth Day!
Saturday, April 21 & Sunday April 22
McCormick Place/ Lakeside 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive
Show HoursSaturday 10AM- 8PM & Sunday 11AM- 6PM
Experience Green Festival in one of the greenest cities in the nation! The Great Lakes are home to some of the most innovative and cutting-edge green technologies, products and services— the perfect place to find great ways to green your life.Take in more than 300 exhibits in the nation’s largest eco-mall:* Shop for everything from eco-fashion and natural home and health products to solar panels and fair trade gifts and crafts.* Discover new techniques and strategies at great how-to workshops.* Network at green career and green investing sessions.* Green your home and save energy at the City of Chicago Pavilion.* Find local organic farmers at the FamilyFarmed Pavilion.* Let your kids play at the Organic Valley of Family Farms' Kids’ Zone.* Enjoy organic dining and sample local beers & wines.* Hear great, live local music.See more than 150 dynamic speakers on 5 stages:• Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!• Greg Palast, Armed Madhouse• Paul Stamets, Fungi Perfecti• Frances Moore Lappé, Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet• Richard M. Daley, Chicago Mayor (Invited)• Judy Wicks, White Dog Enterprises, Inc.• David Korten, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
• Omar Freilla, Director of Green Worker Cooperatives• And many more (check our site for updates)Admission$19 Membership Fast Pass$10 Day Pass$14 Membership Fastpass for Public Transit/Seniors/Students with ID/bike riders (at door)$5 Public Transit/Seniors/Students with ID/Bike Riders (day pass at door)FREE -- Children under 12

The Green Festival and Conscious Alliance are proud to announce that we will be hosting a Food Drive to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository on April 21st and 22nd, 2007 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. All patrons attending the festival that donate 10 non-perishable food items will receive a limited-edition poster by artist, Scott Saw. All posters are printed on an environmentally friendly, post-consumer waste paper.The Conscious Alliance strongly encourages that all food donations be low-sodium health food oriented products. Ramen noodles will not be accepted in exchange for this year’s Green Festival Poster.Thank you for your continued support in feeding the hungry!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Colorado bungalows...who knew?

I just returned from a trip to Colorado and while there stumbled upon some great bungalows in the towns of Boulder and Loveland. One of the homeowners I talked to thought that many of the frame versions were Sears kit homes. After a visit to The Tattered Cover (a fine bookstore in Denver, check it out if you're there) I now own a copy of Small Houses of the Twenties, The Sears and Roebuck 1926 House Catalog. Watch for an upcoming WRBN meeting featuring photos of these bungalows with (hopefully) side-by-side comparisons of their catalog listings.

WRBN enters the blogosphere

Greetings Bungalow Neighbors! After a very inspirational meeting with our friends from House in Progress, we've decided to join them and share the various bits and pieces of bungalow trivia that we gather via this blog. We'll also use this space to announce meetings, provide updates on projects, and generally keep you abreast of all things bungalow.