Beyond the Bungalow: Grand Homes in the Arts & Crafts Tradition

Paul Duchscherer with Photography by Linda Svendsen
Beyond the Bungalow: Grand Homes in the Arts & Crafts Tradition
Gibbs Smith, 2005
176 pages, color illustrations, Hardcover
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beyondtheBECAUSE IT CONTAINS SO much information, it is tempting to describe Paul Duchscherer’s newest book as encyclopedic. But that adjective tends to be used for books that are written less to be read than to be consulted. Beyond the Bungalow is written to be read. At once a history and a survey of large Craftsman-style American homes whose designs were influenced by other dominant American styles as well as by English and Spanish traditions, the book, with its well organized photographs and descriptions, also serves as a kind of cross-continental exhibition catalog of many of the nation’s finest surviving Craftsman masterpieces.

Duchscherer is here dealing not with such “ultimate bungalows” as the Greenes’ Gamble House (shown in a single half-page photograph on page 59) but with what he calls the bungalow’s “bungaloid” relatives homes that bore resemblances to the modest one- or one-and-a-half-story bungalow but that “veered upward” to two stories, sometimes more. They were designed and built for families who needed and could afford something larger than a bungalow and who often wanted a greater sense of division between various living spaces than could be found in a bungalow, but who nevertheless wanted their homes to be in fashion during the decades of the bungalow’s popularity. If one of the defining features of a “bungalow” was that its bedrooms shared space with the home’s other living spaces on a single ground floor, a motivating feature of a “bungaloid” home was that its bedrooms moved upstairs.

Stylistically, these larger residences adapted exterior profiles and features and interior plans both from earlier American styles and from foreign styles that rose to popularity during the Craftsman era. Inside and out, though—but especially inside —the results were blends in which the Craftsman influence remained strong, if not dominant. “Some homes were designed as interpretations of a historically inspired style on their exteriors,” Duchscherer writes, “but their interiors are predominantly expressive of the Craftsman style.”

After a brief look at the influence of the Rustic style on Craftsman homebuilding, Duchscherer reviews some striking examples of large classic Arts and Crafts homes, including Irving Gill’s Marston House in San Diego, Julia Morgan’s Thomas House in Berkeley, the Greenes’ Gamble House and Alfred Heine-man’s Gray House in Pasadena, and White Pines, the East Coast residence of Byrdcliffe Colony founders Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead and Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead. Then he and Svendsen go on to devote the main portion of the book to a tour through four “Craftsman Crossover” styles: the romantic and exotic Swiss Chalet and Oriental styles; the Prairie and Shingle embodiments of a “progressive Americana;” the revivals of traditional American styles (Colonial, Mission, and Spanish Colonial); and the Tudor and English Cottage revivals from a more distant past.

Along the way, they place the reader outside and inside a few of the best-known American Arts and Crafts homes and many that are less well known but that clearly reveal the richness to which Craftsman style could be carried when money was no object.

Duchscherer and his editors have produced a book that can be read as two parallel and essentially independent presentations. The book’s main text describes the evolution of the American Arts and Crafts building tradition and the Craftsman style in their historical contexts, explaining how stylistic themes were worked out in structural details both in classic bungalow designs and in the larger “bungaloids.” The captions that accompany the illustrations can be read—indeed, when the illustrations show several views of a single home, should be read— sequentially by themselves so that one can absorb and appreciate the almost cinematic way in which some of Svendsen’s photographs reveal how a home’s exterior and interior are related or how adjacent interior spaces are experienced. (One example is the sequence of photographs of the living room, garden alcove and dining room of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1916 Bogk House in Milwaukee.)

In Beyond the Bungalow, Duchscherer redresses what he feels is the under-appreciation that has tended to exclude large, mixed-style Arts and Crafts homes from the veneration bestowed on the movement’s purest exemplars. In making the case for a more expansive definition of the canon, he offers the hope of enriching it.

John Luke

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