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.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Southern Bungalows

On a recent trip south (and apparently a tour of places named after women) we stopped in Florence, Alabama and Anna, Illinois. After checking out the Wright and Griffin buildings we'd planned on seeing, I wandered the surrounding streets to discover one incredible bungalow after another. If you're ever in the Muscle Shoals area, I recommend visiting Florence. It's a charming college town with an unusually large number of historic districts for its size.

Florence, Alabama

Florence, Alabama

Florence, Alabama

Florence, Alabama

Florence, Alabama

Florence, Alabama

Florence, Alabama

Double squirrel bird bath in Anna, Illinois

Anna, Illinois

Anna, Illinois

Anna, Illinois

Anna, Illinois

OK, it's not a bungalow, but this vintage sign for a bread company in Anna is just too cute...let's call it a bunny-galow.

Who was Bruce Goff?

On our field trip to Graceland cemetery, several of you wondered who Bruce Goff was, his headstone is featured in a previous post about that trip. Here's some Goff information courtesty of Absolute Astronomy:
Goff's accumulated design portfolio of 500 projects (about one quarter of them built) demonstrates a restless, sped-up evolution through conventional styles and forms at a young age, through the Prairie style of his heroes and correspondents Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan . Finding inspiration in sources as varied as Antoni Gaudi, Balinese music, Claude Debussy , Japanese ukiyo-e prints, and seashells, Goff's mature work had no precedent and he has few heirs other than his former assistant, New Mexico architect Bart Prince. His contemporaries primarily followed tight functionalistic floorplans with flat roofs and no ornament. Goff's idiosyncratic floorplans, attention to spatial effect, and use of recycled and/or unconventional materials such as gilded zebrawood, cellophane strips, cake pans, glass cullet, Quonset Hut ribs, ashtrays, and white turkey feathers, challenge conventional distinctions between order and disorder. Some notable buildings designed by Goff are the Bavinger House in Norman, Oklahoma, the Ruth VanSickle Ford House in Aurora, Illinois ,the Colmorgan House in Glenview, Illinois, and the Pavilion for Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
His most ambitious built work, the Joe D. Price House and Studio, also known as Shin'enKan, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma was destroyed by arson in 1996. Goff also designed the Searing house in Prairie Village, Kansas

Goff's Duncan House is located deep in the Shawnee National Forest and was a stop along the way during our quick trip south in September. I'll let the pictures do the talking here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween from WRBN!

This great 1920s photo of a young lady decked out in spiderlicious style is from the creepy cool Agent Gallery on Damen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Derrick's Avalon Bungalow BBQ

On Saturday we trekked to Chicago's Avalon neighborhood for a tour of Derrick's mural-filled home. This must be one of the cleanest, best preserved bungalows in the city. And the murals --I've never seen anything like them in a bungalow or elsewhere. Hand painted and original to the home, they fill all four walls of the dining room.
When I asked Derrick what work he'd done to the place he said "Nothing - I just moved my furniture in. Oh yeah, and I painted a couple of rooms". (As someone who spent about a year painting over pink woodwork, I'm more than a little envious.) Come to find out, Derrick is only the second owner of this home. The first owner spent his entire life here, a flipper bought & cleaned up the place, and Derrick moved in.

We were privileged to meet Derrick's mom as well as his neighbors, William Cousins and his daughter Cheryl. Mr. Cousins has a remarkable life story:
"Like many Chicagoans, William Cousins, Jr., has his roots in the South. Cousins was born in 1927, in Swiftown, Mississippi. His family moved to Memphis, Tennessee and then to Chicago. Cousins graduated from DuSable High School on the city's South Side in 1945. He received his B. A. degree in political science from the University of Illinois, where he graduated with honors in 1948. Cousins then went on to Harvard Law School, receiving his LL.B. in 1951.

Cousins served his country as an infantry lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953. He continued as an active army reservist for twenty years and retired as a lieutenant colonel. Cousins began practicing law in 1953 as an attorney with the Chicago Title & Trust Company. From 1957 to 1961, he served as a Republican Assistant State's Attorney. Cousins entered private practice with the law firm of Turner, Cousins, Gavin and Watt. In 1967, Cousins was elected as a "Free Democratic" alderman from Chicago's Eighth Ward.

As an alderman, Cousins worked outside of Chicago's powerful political machine and was reelected as an independent until 1976, when he ran for Circuit Court Judge of Cook County and won. Over the next twenty-six years, Cousins presided as a judge on the Illinois Appellate Court and the Cook County Circuit Court. He was also appointed to various positions, including chairman of the Illinois Judicial Conference and as a member of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Capital Cases. While working as a judge, Cousins also served as Chairman of the Illinois Judicial Council, Chairman of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association and as a Board member of the National Center for State Courts.

Before election to the judiciary, Cousins dedicated his time and talents to an array of organizations and causes, including Chicago Area Planned Parenthood Association and Operation PUSH." (From The History Makers)
Thanks, Derrick for introducing us to Avalon, your wonderful neighbors and your beautiful abode.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Elks Veterans Memorial

Ever wondered what's inside this building? Me too. Last night Preservation Chicago hosted their annual fall fundraising event at the spectacular Elks Memorial. This was the first non-Elk event ever to be held at the Memorial which made the evening even more special.

Built in 1926 at the same time many of our West Ridge bungalows were constructed, the Memorial boasts room after room of marble, carved wood and magnificent murals and sculpture. You can take a virtual tour here but if you have the chance, I highly recommend you see it in person. Wandering through this building made me wish I had time to explore all of the hidden treasures that must exist all over Chicago.
(Photos from the Elks website.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Explore Avalon with WRBN on September 26

WRBNeighbor Derrick invites all members to explore Chicago's Avalon community and visit his exceptional home for a tour and Barbeque on Saturday, September 26th. Watch for an email with details, coming soon! That's Derrick's place above with a group of WRBN visitors last fall.

Thanks, Frank!

Pictured above is is the old broken copper 1929 weathervane from the Indian Boundary Park field house, and WRBNeighbor and Roycroft master caftsmanFrank Glapa with the new, handcrafted weathervane he made as a gift to the park.
With donation from neighborhood organizations, Frank also made new planter boxes for the front of the Green Briar Park field house.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Burnham Centennial continues...

If you missed the first Burnham Parks tour, it's not too late to sign up for the next one offered on September 26th. You'll have to make a decision though, as our WRBN South Side tour and barbecue is the same day. Too many tours, too little time...
Below are reports from WRBNeighbors who attended yesterday:

The Burnham Tour was AMAZING!!
We saw the underground mechanical rooms of Buckingham Fountain (you pay $50 every Friday night as a fundraiser to see it), then went to Jackson Park and saw the "only bridge designed by Burnham" now called the "Clarence Darrow Bridge", went to the Osaka Island Garden with the Tea House and waterfalls. Then drove along and imagined why the "gondola canal" was not built where the Midway Plaisance is now.

In Washington Park, we saw the details to the Fountain of Time, Loredo Taft has sculpted himself on the back, male figure with the "short tunic", then on to the DuSable Museum to see the inside of the building from the of the few still standing designed by Burnham from the World's Fair. Drove on to Sherman Park and had lunch (amazing field house with murals by Art Inst. students), last and not least the Fuller Park field house another group of murals by the head of the Art Institute Dept. - also, has a "cloisters" garden room with crossing paths planted with small shrub roses and crab apple trees (in Spring has to be magnificent) a water fountain in the center, and at the end of the visual lines the bust of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Fuller!!

Many, many details to print here.....very impressive tour!!
Julia was great and of course we saw a couple of other tour participants we got to know from Lincoln Park Docents....well worth the $30 each, which included a wonderful box lunch from Harry Caray's of pesto chicken or grilled veggie, with chips, fruit salad, choc. chip cookie and water bottle!!

Carol can add more to this.....we loved it!!

If you want to be a boxer, Fuller Park is where you go. There are 3 boxing rings and one was used by M. Ali and other greats to train. COOL.

This tour was so worthwhile, just long enough, and worth way more that the $30 fee. Highly recommend it. Julia Bachrach is very knowledgeable, very lively, and a delight to be with all day.

(Photo of the Fuller Park field house from the Burnham Plan Centennial website)

Independence Park Bungalow

This morning several WRBNeighbors attended the Pancake Breakfast at the Independence Park Bungalow. As I attempted to shoot my first photo, the camera told me I'd forgotten my memory card at home, so, dear readers, you'll just have to look at their website or make the short trip yourself.

I'll leave it up to Ann to give you the lowdown:

The "Breakfast at Independence Park" was delicious, well organized, soft blue grass music on the lawn, 3 choices of pancakes, or a bit of everything, great coffee and tables set all over the inside, on the back porch, on the grass in front and over 35 volunteers Lynda O. told me - their 6th Year. They raise the money for the neighborhood group and park group. Nice setting and nicely done.

Alderman Marge Laurino was there, very friendly and low key, talking to everyone (not campaigning either), we saw local police officers waiting in line.

For $10 - the best gourmet type choices of fresh peaches, and New Orleans eggs, apple pancakes, sausages, etc. I have ever tasted!! Lots of families with kids and all well behaved!!

We were impressed.


BTW - across the street lives Chicago author Audrey Niffenegger who wrote the best seller "The Time Traveler's Wife" coming out in the movies in another week!! She has a nicely done new corner garden.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Get the skinny on the new Green house

Curious about the new, skinny house on Warren Park? Read all about it at the Park House Construction blog. Welcome, Green neighbor!
(Rendering from the Sandberg Architecture website.)

Going to Graceland

Last Saturday WRBN members toured Graceland Cemetery. Led by Donna S. , we got the inside scoop on the former Chicago movers and shakers who are buried here. Familiar names included Louis Sullivan, Richard Nickel, Mies, Marion Mahoney Griffin and Marshall Field.

Pictured are some Sullivan-esque iron mausoleum doors near the entrance to the cemetery and the unusual marker for architect Bruce Goff.

Oh - and if you're interested, there's still space available. I'm considering it...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This post is dedicated to the memory of Alex, the best cat ever.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

BBQ with Boo

WRBNeighbor and chef Patrick Williams is featured in a recent issue of Edible Chicago. You can read all about him and his Grampa Boo (in photo) who inspired Patrick's delicious BBQ sauce. Patrick, we salute you and your grandfather on the eve of the barbecuing-est holiday of the year!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Signed, sealed, delivered

We're happy to report that both the Rogers Park Manor AND Talman West Ridge National Register Historic Districts are now complete with with signs. Check them out as you stroll around the neighborhood.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The yin and yang of West Ridge

Last week I went out with a friend to photograph & document graffiti in the neighborhood for a project she's been working on. We found plenty of spray paint as well as some very sad looking foreclosures (see my Good, Bad & Ugly blog for those images). Throughout the afternoon though, I also came across plenty of lovely homes and gardens -- this one is in the 2400 block of Fitch, just north of Indian Boundary Park.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spring in West Ridge

Upcoming May & June Events

May 16
Great Chicago Places and Spaces FREE architectural tours, including a tour of Devon Avenue, and a Bungalows by Bus tour of one of the National Register Bungalow Historic Districts

May 16
Wright Plus 2009 housewalk in Oak Park is sold out

May 16 - 17
Green Festival Chicago at Navy Pier, featuring green vendors, speakers, and more

May 31
Arts and Crafts Chicago 4th Annual Antique and Contemporary Sale in River Forest, including new work by WRBNeighbor Frank Glapa

June 7 (5:00 p.m.) and June 14 (7:00 p.m.)
WRBNeighbor Johanna Nauraine sings at Davenport's Piano Bar, 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Call 773 278-1830 for reservations and info.

June 18 evening
Northtown Garden Society Spring Garden Walk, in and around the Talman West Ridge Historic Bungalow District. Contact Ginny Davis for info.

We're trying to reschedule our Window Restoration meeting at Alison's, and it might happen in June.

We've searched for info. on the Berwyn Bungalow tour, but have found nothing to indicate that there will be one in 2009. Please inform us if you know something we don't.

Jo and Maribeth
WRBN Co-Chairs

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rock On!

Looking a lot like a Gabion basket wall, a creative fence design in progress in a bungalow back yard on the 6700 block of N. Talman.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mirror, mirror on the window (and the wall)

My co-worker Fran lives in a well-kept vintage apartment building a few blocks south of Devon.
She's getting married soon and moving into the vacant unit one floor down. I went to see her new place yesterday, and was pretty impressed with the bathroom. The entire room is covered in pink and black glass tile (known by the brand names of Vitrolite or Carrara) and mirrors. What you see in the photo is the window, which has had the glass replaced with mirrors and surrounded by a mirrored frame. The reflection is of the vanity mirror, surrounded by lights worthy of a movie house marquee. As I stood there taking it all in, I could feel my inner Jean Harlow emerging -- but the realization of needing to hit the road for my weekly trip to Aldi took care of that pretty quickly. Somthing tells me that even in the depths of the first Depression, Ms. Harlow wasn't bagging her own groceries.
(Also, check out this great set of Flick photos of vintage bathrooms)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Johanna at the Green Mill

WRBNeighbor Johanna Nauraine sent us this message today:

I just wanted to let you know that I'm one of the headliners in an upcoming jazz concert at the historic Green Mill next Saturday afternoon, April 4th at 12:30. You won't see this performance listed on the Green Mill calendar because we have special arrangements to perform there - negotiated by nationally known jazz singer, Spider Saloff who's been teaching our jazz class (this is our class performance).

If you have time to stop in and say hi and listen awhile, please do. If not - I have two solo shows coming up at Davenport's Piano Bar in June. Save the dates! June 7 at 5:00 p.m. and
June 14th at 7:00 p.m.

So, come on out and support Johanna in the wonderfully restored Prohibition-era decor of Uptown's Green Mill at 4802 N. Broadway Ave.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

TWR National Historic District in the news

Read all about it in this Sun Times article, and many thanks to Bill Cunniff for a well-written story. Photo of the 6700 block of N. Talman from the Sun-Times.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shady Rest

A pine-shaded stone bench in front of Park Gables, just north of Indian Boundary Park.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bold Plans. Big Dreams.

Do you know about the Burnham Plan Centennial? No? Click here to learn all about it. As part of the Centennial, members of WRBN and RP/WRHS have been attending workshops and sharing our neighborhood history with the Indo-American Heritage Museum to create a tour of Devon Avenue which will take place on May 16 as part of the 11th Annual Great Chicago Places & Spaces (GCPS) festival .

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kumbha Mela

Anyone who's visited West Ridge knows that our Devon Avenue offers the experience of a trip to the Subcontinent, minus the inconvenience of an international flight. And, as we've mentioned before, the word "bungalow" has deeps roots in India: in Gujarati it's known as bangalo, from Hindi, bangla is a "low, thatched house," and the term "Bengalese," is used to describe a "house in the Bengal style."

On Friday I was the guest of members of our local Indo American Heritage Museum at the opening event for this wonderful photography exhibit:

Sacred Waters: India’s Great Kumbha Mela Pilgrimage, March 6 — July 19, 2009
Journey to India with photographer Jean-Marc Giboux, and discover the creativity and splendor of the largest human gathering on earth, the Kumbha Mela pilgrimage.
Four times every 12 years, for just a few weeks, enormous and vibrant communities form at rivers believed to transform into divine nectar. Witness these fleeting, joyful gatherings, and discover their dazzling processions, theatrical performances, and the athletic and devotional practices of holy men. Then, proceed with the pilgrims to the culmination of their journey—a bath in sacred waters.
Through photographer Giboux's arresting images, glimpse the diversity of India and the complexities of Hindu religious life, on display at The Field Museum.

On another note, only vaugely related to bungalows (see November 11, 2008 post), while at this event I was excited to see Maria Pinto, Mrs. Obama's couturier of choice, looking every bit the designer in a fab, fitted green suit.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Window Box meeting on March 5th

Join the Northtown Garden Society for their next meeting on Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 7:00 PM. Neighbors Ann Glapa and Jo Stavig will give a slide presentation called "Beautiful Window Boxes All Year Long". Please note that the meeting will take place at the Northtown Public Library 6435 N. California. There is plenty of street parking.

And, check out Jo's website, Urban Prairie Planters with window boxes cleverly named after our local streets. That's one of her custom container styles (the Washtenaw, I believe) in the photo above.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

West Ridge Bungalow Worms

Last Thursday we had a full house at the North Town Library to listen to our garden panel speak. (Thanks again to David, John, Chris and Kim -- you all rocked our landscaping worlds, and Kim, I will never forget your "parsley around the roast" description of the typical Chicago front yard evergreens!)

There was a lively discussion of all things green, but when John mentioned worm composting I didn't hear much of a response.

At the risk of never having anyone accept a dinner invitation to our house again, allow me to introduce you to the smallest and hardest working members of our household -- the worms.

I first learned of worm composting via this great online booklet offered by the Shedd Aquarium.
Later, I met up with Master Composter Ruth Melulis who set me up with my first little colony of Red Wigglers. They've been living happily in our pantry even since.

See that grey plastic bin? That's it, right next to the rest of our recycling containers. That's where they live. They're not messy or smelly, and in the winter it's definitely more convenient to slip food scraps to the worms than walking them out to the compost bin.

Come on neighbors, if New Yorkers can do it, so can you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dreaming of spring...

Bungalow Garden and Landscape Design meeting this Thursday

Greetings Bungalow Neighbors,
Our first meeting of the year is on February 19 (Thursday), 7:00 p.m. at the Northtown Public Library, 6435 N. California Ave. We have a stellar panel of landscaping and garden design experts who will be talking about designing for small bungalow yards/gardens, and answering our questions:

John Eskandari is the Buyer/Manager of the Trees & Shrubs department at Gethsemane Garden Center in Andersonville, where he shares his passion for woody plant material with clients. John is also an instructor at Northwestern University’s Landscape Design & Management program, teaching classes on Sustainable Landscape Design and Succeeding with Plants.

Chris Gent's beautiful West Ridge bungalow garden, complete with ponds, was featured on a past Northtown Garden Society Garden Walk. Chris is a registered Landscape Architect and works as Deputy Director of Planning and Development for the Chicago Park District.

David Gianneschi currently works as a horticulturalist for Hoerr Schaudt, and is known for his talent in creating distinctive planting designs that harmonize with the design intent of a landscape and the bio-region of the site. David's career has also included freelance landscape design, workshop presentations for the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association, and serving as Technical Advisor for HGTV's "The Seasoned Gardener".

Kim Kaulas (Kim Kaulas Inc., Landscape Design and Installation) has designed many gardens in West Ridge and neighboring areas, and is a popular speaker with garden groups on topics such as year-round landscaping and small space gardening. Kim has taught at the Chicago Botanic Garden for many years, and will be teaching a new course on 'Bungalow Garden Design' for the Botanic Garden at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center later this year.

Please join us for this special evening, and be sure to bring all your bungalow garden questions!
Jo & Maribeth, WRBN Co-chairs