The Bungalows Of Rocky Mount – Another Architectural Asset That Needs Protection – Part One

 “The house gulped in a big breath of fresh air, like some frantic drowning thing breaking the water’s surface and gasping for life. It had sat unopened for so long, suffocating in the silence, it’s memories blanketed by a thick layer of dust.”
― Rachel Autumn Deering, Husk

Chicago is known the world over for its architecture. The soaring skyscrapers of downtown, the luxurious palaces of meat-packing barons, and the gracious Prairie-style homes of the elite and 80,000 Bungalows throughout the residential areas of the city. I was born in Chicago and raised from the age of 5 in Evanston, IL. where my parents remained until I was married. Part of who I am involved sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car looking out the windows at the ‘city of neighborhoods’ and the architecture along the outer drive leading to Michigan Avenue and beyond. It was not until I began to write Main Street that the experience of those countless images informed how I see and champion Main Street Rocky Mount: the abundance of beautiful commercial and residential architecture that abides here.

 THE BUNGALOW: You may be fortunate to live in one of the Foursquare homes scattered throughout Rocky Mount. Foursquare bungalows are but one example of the most popular styles of houses in America. Despite their basic, simple cube design, they offer a large variety of appearances, and their form can be seen from coast to coast, from plain to fancy. It has been said that they are the quintessential home of the period. They are a squat, solid, rectangular, one-and-a-half story homes built between 1910 and 1940.  The bungalow was the darling of the American Arts and Crafts movement, which emphasized skilled craftsmanship and a connection with nature.  “The whole idea behind the bungalow implies an informal setting, as compared to the Victorian mansion,” says historian Dominic Pacyga.

In 2000, Chicago launched The Historic Bungalow Initiative to preserve and adapt these cornerstones of residential Chicago. The Initiative is unique in America recognizing the homes as stylistically important, but also provides incentives for improvement and modernization. The Initiative is a comprehensive marketing, education and financing program launched to celebrate the architectural and historical importance and ensure the viability of the Chicago bungalow’s contribution to families, neighborhoods and the nation’s architecture. The initiative is a joint endeavor of the City of Chicago, the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association.


I am including a few examples of Bungalow Architecture I have snatched from here and there, (articles, Pinterest) to remind you of your drive-by experience – – seeing them everywhere you go in Rocky Mount. FOLLOW Main Street so you don’t miss Part 2.

We’ll Build a Bungalow For Two

4 thoughts on “The Bungalows Of Rocky Mount – Another Architectural Asset That Needs Protection – Part One

  1. A restoration story.

    After my parent’s sold our family home, they purchased a bungalow filled to the roof with Arts and Crafts movement details. While it needed updating the bones were strong foretelling what it could be. Fast-forward a year and it was finished. The built-ins surrounding the fireplace were filled with books and family pictures, the original windows worked again, the sunroom became my mother’s sewing room and the kitchen had been remodeled extensively while keeping it Arts and Crafts. Soon a massive deck was built off the kitchen where we would enjoy family gatherings in the shade of a giant maple tree. As the years passed many great times were spent on the front porch, around the dining room table and waking up with a view of the massive maple from the guest room. The neighborhood was filled with bungalows, foursquares, the occasional colonial and numerous other styles—all old. The neighbors knew each other and carefully guarded their homes and neighborhood from attempts to infill or tear down. As the older residents sold more young families were drawn to the neighborhood were kids rode bikes on the front sidewalk, the mail was still delivered by foot and each summer the street was blocked off for a big party. As my parents aged and needed some help Marty would send his two twin boys over to rake the leaves from the giant maple, Melisa a young veterinarian with a house full of dogs would help maintain the flower garden that ran down both sides of the shared backyard fence and the minister’s wife who lived on the other side of the alley would walk over to chat with my mom on the back deck. After mother fell a decision was made to move to a ranch house—John and I lobbied for them to stay outlining options to make it feasible—but to my parents the ranch seemed a logical next step. In some ways it was. However, the intricately woven love and support that made up the fabric of their old neighborhood did not exist in the newish ranch house subdivision. It looked lonely in the new neighborhood–and it was. As time passed my parents missed the bungalow and the deep-rooted protection of the old neighborhood.

    As I look back I see that my parents grew miserable in the newish subdivision and it occurred to me that the new neighborhood was subdivided–by apathy–there were no shared interests in preservation, no sharing of retortion secrets, no cup of coffee on the porch and no kids riding bikes or playing. The people lacked the vital neighborly skill that keeps a neighborhood strong, safe and connected. The skill ? A shared intrest in maintaining a strong neighborhood through connections built from houses, kids, the mail. gardens and a cup of coffe on the porch.


  2. I lived in a 4 square gambrel roof house in Maryland before we moved to R.M. We built here with touches of Arts and Crafts on the exterior. American Bungalow magazine is a wonderful resource if you haven’t found it yet! Organize a tour of RM bungalows and I’ll sign up!


    1. Hi Susan: I do know the Magazine and I have bookmarked articles as part of my research. I’ll be back in touch with you, hopefully over a glass of sweet tea and let’s talk Bungalows. Any chance you have photographs of your Maryland house? Let’s write about it for inspiration. Thanks for keeping me company on Main Street. SFH


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