|Fifty-One Stucco Bungalows on Arthur Avenue|
On the block of Arthur Avenue with Clark Street on the east and the Union Pacific Railroad embankment on the west, there's an impressive collection of modest stucco bungalows constructed in 1915. Permit records shows that these homes were designed by Edgewater architect and developer Niels Buck, who was active in the area from the 1890s through the 1920s. Two permits were issued, the first covering the homes on the north side of the block in April of 1915, and the second on the south side in October.
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune Niels Buck, in partnership with Herman Becker, bought 12 1/2 acres in the area for $60,000 from Jacob Rehm. The cost of construction was estimated to be $230,000, which puts the cost per bungalow around $5,600. In today's value this would be about $134,000. Typically a developer would work with a bank to issue bonds in the value of the loan. Investors buying the bonds received a guaranteed rate of return. But partnering with Becker may have allowed Buck to bypass this process, making the development more profitable for both.
|View from the west looking towards Clark Street, 1921|
This is a great photograph of the street in 1921, before any substantial changes were made. The image is available on Wikipedia, which considers it too old to be subject to copyright. Still, I wouldn't mind knowing where it originated...
This was a high quality development, with poured concrete curbs, walkways, sidewalks and electric streetlights. The stucco cladding addressed building code requirements for fire resistance.
Real estate developers in the city were responsible for tying their development into the street grid of the city and extending the utilities. Quality construction was profitable to the developer, who wanted homes to sell briskly so they could move on to their next opportunity. And in 1915 affordable homes in Rogers Park, with its strong transit ties and proximity to the lake, probably went like hotcakes.
I've identified at least seven separate types of bungalow on the block. Although perhaps "type" is too strong a work. Basically these are all stucco boxes with slight variations in roofline and porch design. Originally they were all about the same in size and square footage, but the changes in massing makes the repetition of designs nearly unnoticeable. This was an advantage of having a developer who also functioned as an architect. For those who look closely the block creates an almost perfect illustration of architectural variations on a theme.
|Type I Bungalow with boulder cladding|
Stucco is a surface treatment that required maintenance, repair and sometimes replacement. It wasn't such a stretch to replace one surface treatment with another. The bungalow above incorporates a formstone cladding. This was popular for home repair as early as the 1930s and probably a bit cheaper than new stucco, which required specialized skills for installation.
|Type II Bungalow with renovations|
This block of Arthur represents the most extensive contiguous development I've found in the neighborhood. But I know there are many more out there.
|Ad for Atlas Portland Cement Company from American Builder, May-1918. Accessed through Google Books.|