When builders were putting up bungalows, Dutch Colonials, English Tudors, Georgian Colonials and raised ranches in Gladstone Park in the early- to mid-1900s, there was no such thing as “the starter house.” The original homes, with their formal living and dining rooms, ample working kitchens and at least two good-sized bedrooms and a bath were considered spacious.
How times have changed. We no longer pile two, three, even four children in one bedroom. We can’t fathom how a whole family can share one bath. We need more room for chopping vegetables, making coffee, microwaving. We want space for recreation, office work, and hobbies. And thus arises the itch to expand the home for more modern sensibilities.
Homeowners in Chicago started scratching out more space when they brought their iceboxes into their kitchens from their back porches and turned what had been an attached shed into a screened porch. This later became a three-season sunporch or a year-around den/family room on piling supports. They carved out extra bedrooms from their sloped-roof attics. They finished their basements for TV rooms, playrooms, and laundries. They could do all that without altering the exterior walls of the home.
When that wasn’t enough, they called the big boys in. For modest expansions, builders opened one or the other side of the roof, increasing headroom for more usable floor space by adding dormers with more ceiling height. This could easily double the number of bedrooms in the house as well as add a second bath. Often they would enclose their open front porches, adding six or eight feet of indoor living space the whole length of the house front.
None of those efforts are pictured here. This section is reserved for major expansions where the whole roof came off with full second story additions. You will see that in some cases homeowners tried to maintain the look of the original house, say by mimicking a half hexagonal brick first story with a second story of the same shape and materials. Others went straight up, hybridizing styles with colonial or even modern features. Others obliterated every remnant of the past with entirely new shapes finishes. You can judge for yourself how artful you think the expansions are.
Sometimes it was hard for the photographer to tell if a home had been the product of an expansion or had just been built the way it was. A telltale sign was looking for the original brick on house sides, which would have been prohibitively expensive to alter. She also researched the age of each house in order to verify its roots. Still, in some cases she had to guess how they started out.
Obviously only a small number of Gladstone Park homes with major additions are shown here. They were chosen because they are all very different from one another, displaying vast design choices homeowners made in enlarging houses in the neighborhood. In deference to the Chicago Bungalow Association in its efforts to encourage homeowners to preserve the historic shapes of their bungalows when expanding, no pictures of “poptops” with their flyaway roof dormers appear here.
For more on how Gladstone Park’s standout stock of homes were built and serve to enhance residential life in the neighborhood, see Development and Vintage Home Living.
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