A Chicago style bungalow is generally defined as rectangular shape, 1½ story brick home with a low-pitched roof built between 1910 and 1945. Most of the bungalows in Berwyn, Illinois, were built in the boom between 1920 and 1930 when the population more than tripled. The Berwyn bungalows were honored in a 2007 article in American Bungalow Magazine (Issue 54, Summer 2007) as “Chicagoland’s Greatest Treasure” mainly because they incorporate “architectural detail and a level of ornamentation seldom seen elsewhere.” The author of this article, Mike Williams, lives in a Chicago bungalow — in Chicago — but he states that the best example of the “Chicago” bungalow is in Berwyn. In 2011, This Old House Magazine recognized Berwyn as best neighborhood for bungalows.
For over a century, the bungalow has been lauded as a spacious and affordable apartment alternative. The bungalows in Berwyn provide owners with more benefits than a similarly priced, or more expensive, condominium or townhouse in Chicago. It provides the sole proprietorship, with a yard and garage, that an exurban house offers, but in an affordable size and a more convenient location. When you walk down a bungalow block in Berwyn, you notice that these brick houses with limestone and other architectural details create a rhythmic streetscape and a neighborhood feel that many urban planners try to replicate in new developments, but can’t. It’s for these reasons that the City of Homes organization developed the Berwyn Bungalow Preservation Initiative.
We believe that Berwyn’s historical homes in general, and bungalows in particular, meet the needs of today’s lifestyle. As such, the BBPI encourages the continued viability of these homes by providing resources and incentives for bungalow owners to restore their homes and maintain the city’s unique streetscapes and friendly neighborhoods.
Participation in the BBPI is voluntary. An owner of a Berwyn bungalow can simply follow our design guidelines, or nominate his or her home to be designated a local historical landmark under the City of Berwyn’s preservation ordinance. Once approved by the Berwyn Preservation Commission and the Berwyn City Council, the homeowner becomes eligible for benefits including a special plaque of landmark designation, the Illinois Property Tax Assessment Freeze , the possibility of certain permit fee waivers, and access to rehabilitation grants as they become available.
With the support of residents who participate in the program, we are confident that the BBPI will become a model initiative for the revitalization of historic, walkable, transit-friendly, and livable inner ring communities like Berwyn.