Thoughts On Our 20th Anniversary
LIKE THE HUMANS WHO CREATED THEM, bungalows often take on a soft, warm glow when somebody loves them. Once restored, a bungalow radiates the light of its soul—light that beams through filters of mica and parchment and is reflected off wood instead of whitewash. Organic tones of leather and ceramic replace bilious plastic colors. The house’s core light reemerges. Take a night stroll through a neighborhood of restored bungalows and you can see and feel the joys of 100 years ago, when our great-grandparents created the American bungalow not just as a place to live, but also as a glowing statement of values and artistic sensitivities. Today loved bungalows are multiplying. Hundreds of thousands of points and patches of amber light tint the nighttime diorama of the continent.
But it wasn’t always this way. In post-WWII America, the bungalow’s glow faded in the sterile light of a plastic, atomic age. Most went completely unloved. Forty years ago, few bungalows had been restored; they were just cheap old houses in the bad part of town where the new freeways could be built. Those who owned the ones that remained had long ago moved away after carving them up into apartments to rent to others who couldn’t afford to leave.
But the approach of a new century can cause people to reassess the quality of their lives, and as the ’80s turned into the ’90s, a few adventurous people took a second look at those scarred old bungalow neighborhoods. They were able too see, through layers of asbestos siding and thick latex paint, the homes’ essential beauty: real wood, real masonry, solid plaster, real tile. They were also able to hear century-old echoes of a shared sense of community. The 21st Century was about to find a home of its own—one that had never really gone away.
In 1987 we made a vow to help these creative pioneers prove that bungalows are not ugly tokens of a disposable, forgettable time gone by, but artful embodiments of a rational, natural, beautiful life waiting to be lived again. In a land filled with bungalows, we believed the news of this discovery was worth sharing, in a form that reflected the bungalow’s beauty and artful dignity—a fine-quality magazine that would itself embody a respect for the bungalow, its owner’s pride and its deep connection with the values of the Arts and Crafts movement. Most of all, we wanted the magazine to share the unpretentious but irresistible essence of the bungalow: we wanted it to be to be good enough that it didn’t have to brag.
The owners of a few lovingly restored bungalows allowed us into their homes, and a group of fine Arts and Crafts artists, manufacturers and suppliers joined with us as advertisers, and in 1990 our venture was launched.
Two decades later, there are times when I feel we have fulfilled our vow. The bungalow’s glow has been restored; cherished old neighborhoods have been reborn. But there are even better times when I realize how many more are out there, waiting, and the wonderful transformations that will happen when the right hearts come along.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
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