Bungalow Neighbors

ABOUT THE TIME INDEPENDENCE, democracy and enterprise got it together and created sufficient opportunity among those who worked for a living, independent people started thinking about a little place of their own. Nothing pretentious, just enough room for a family, but not enough for servants, and maybe a little bit of land to do with as they pleased. That’s when bungalow neighborhoods were born.

And what better house for a neighborhood? What could be more democratic than the humble, one-level-fits-all bungalow, or more natural, nested as it is into its own personal little piece of Mother Earth? Even though they have a lifestyle in common, bungalows are the homes of individuals, and they advertise it. Self-sufficiency with style is their essence.

Physical features like sidewalks, fenceless front yards and furnished porches quickly transform passersby, in all their differences, to neighbors. Toss in a few public areas like a corner market, community parks and playgrounds, churches and schools, and you guarantee a strong sense of neighborhood among all ages. Neighborhoods are kind of like families. When you’re part of one you’re really close with some individuals, others are seldom seen, and with everyone in between you honor the relationship. And there is almost always at least one erratic sort who adds
character to the mix.

Neighbors help each other out and watch out for each other. You can borrow a cup of sugar or a lawnmower when needed. And a bungalow neighborhood demonstrates its manners and its personality by presenting its handsomest elevations, not yawning garages.

Today, more than a century after the original houses began to pepper the landscape, the appeal of living in a bungalow neighborhood haunts us. We endured the worst of McMansion Mania, taking note of what they do to once beautiful scenery, and we seem to be regaining our senses about how much house is comfortable. New neighborhoods of craftsman bungalows from Asheville to Calgary are clear evidence of the way of life’s popularity.

The real deal, whole neighborhoods of vintage bungalows, await revitalization across the land. Some have been invaded and compromised by the architectural equivalents of cowbird chicks. But if there are enough undisturbed houses, a neighborhood heart still beats. Seen from the air they are little green patches, those in cities are verdant forests near downtown—a breath of fresh air for pompous monuments. They are the houses and neighborhoods that raised The Greatest Generation. It takes courage and commitment to restore a bungalow, but the rewards are deeply satisfying in many ways. Many of the projects can be family work. And of course you’ll have lots of helpful neighbors. Like it or not, there will probably be a block party as soon as you’ve returned the last borrowed ladder.

When an original bungalow is restored and lived in as intended, it calls for a celebration. The event is not just a salute to accomplishment and sustainability, it marks the perpetuation of a neighborly way of life.

Looking forward to hearing from you,





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