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URBAN HIKE

Bungalow Haven and Beyond
updated: Oct 01, 2011, 9:45 AM

By the Urban Hikers, Stacey Wright and Peter Hartmann

This week we continued our quest to walk all 256 miles of public streets within the city limits of Santa Barbara, and report about a very special neighborhood and then some.

Within the Upper East there's a relatively unknown area designated as "Bungalow Haven". The map shows the boundaries, and and the photos provide a sampling of the marvelous bungalows you'll find in this little neighborhood, which was designated a Special Design District in 2006. In their book, Walk Santa Barbara, local bungalow-dwellers Cheri Rae and John McKinney provide urban hikers with an easy1- mile hike of the district, which includes all of these beautiful homes and many more.

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While the greatest concentration of bungalows in Santa Barbara is located in Bungalow Haven, this charming and practical form of architecture is found in nearly every neighborhood in the city developed prior to 1940, including the Westside, the Lower East, other parts of the Upper East and the Mesa. Interestingly, the bungalow design we see throughout Santa Barbara is a truly Southern California creation, and is one that is well-suited to our climate and lifestyle.

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The vast majority of bungalows built in Santa Barbara - as elsewhere in California - were constructed between 1900 and 1930. Initially, bungalows were used in India by the British during their Colonial period. There, the British adopted their housing style from the native Bengalis' thatched huts. As such, bungalows are characterized by the following features: low, sloping roofs with wide overhangs; exposed exterior beams and rafters; balanced exterior proportions; and the ever-present front porch and stoop. This design maximized shade and provided outdoor space in which one could enjoy the cool evening breezes.

California Bungalow architecture was born at the same time as the Arts and Crafts movement, which valued the use of simple forms, natural materials and exquisite craftsmanship. At a time when the country was becoming more "assembly-line" oriented, and Victorian homes were incredibly similar in appearance, designers and builders of bungalow architecture focused on the craftsmanship of the individual worker, as well as the uniqueness of the individual home. Craftsman architecture was something of a backlash to run-of-the-mill mass production and manufacturing, which was felt by many to create inferior products and dehumanize the craftsmen.

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Just northwest of the district known as Bungalow Haven, Santa Barbara's largest and most famous bungalow can be found at 1714 Prospect Avenue. Commissioned in 1911 by Nathan Bentz for $5,000, it is the only local home designed by the prestigious firm of the brothers Greene and Greene.

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As children, we always marveled at the massive Asian-inspired entrance on Olive Avenue, and wondered about its significance. We've come to learn that Mr. Bentz was a local antique dealer and specialized in the Asian antiques market. In fact, it was for this reason that Mr. Bentz hired the Greenes to design his home.

The Greene brothers, Charles and Henry, were born in 1868 and 1870 in what is now Cincinnati. They spent the majority of their childhood in St. Louis and West Virginia, later attending MIT's School of Architecture. When the brothers were 25 and 23, they moved from Boston to California to join their parents at their new home in Pasadena. On the trip west, they had an opportunity to visit the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where they were deeply influenced by the Japanese architecture on display there. In 1904, Charles visited another Exposition, this one in in St. Louis; and following that experience, the brothers began incorporating Asian design and details into all of their architectural creations.

The Greene brothers' father, a homeopathic physician, instilled in his sons an enduring respect for the importance of a home which capitalized on the availability of fresh air, passive solar and the circulation of air. In fact, it seems that the Greene brothers were possibly the first architects to concern themselves with the concepts of "green building" - long before it became wildly fashionable. And so, the mysteries of the wonderful Greene and Greene home on Santa Barbara's Upper East have become more understandable...and the magnificent old home seems to us more magnificent than ever.

Other examples of bungalows about town are easy to find. Our photos represent just a fraction of the many varied bungalows that are home to many in Santa Barbara. It's funny, just when we thought we'd found our "favorite" bungalow, around the corner we'd find another, with even more charm than the others...and so it goes. On one of our recent hikes we stopped to photograph one of the many bungalow courts in town, along with a nearby business that occupies a bungalow home turned business on Milpas.

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Perhaps one of the most unique bungalows we've encountered along our urban hikes is a home designed by renowned architect Francis Wilson as his personal residence. Today the home is nearly covered in foliage, and only the keenest eye can discern that it is in fact a bungalow. Mr. Wilson, the architect of Santa Barbara's train station, public library and art museum, added a large rear patio to his home as well as a spacious front patio which was sheltered by a vine-covered pergola. We aren't certain when the home was built, but we believe it was sometime in the early 1900‘s.

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And last, but not least, as we endeavored to learn more about our local bungalows, we came across a book written by Henry H. Saylor, published in 1917, called simply "Bungalows". In it, the author includes a sweet little poem by Burgess Johnson that had previously appeared in Good Housekeeping Magazine, and we think it's worth repeating.

Bungal-Ode

There's a jingle in the jungle,
‘Neath the juniper ad pine,
They are mangling the tangle
Of the underbrush and vine,
And my blood is all a-tingle
At the sound of blow on blow,
As I count each single shingle
On my bosky bungalow.

There's a jingle in the jungle,
I am counting every nail,
And my mind in bungaloaded,
Bungaloping down a trail;
And I dream of every ingle
Where I angle as my ease,
Naught to set my nerves a-jingle,
I may bungle all I please.

For I oft get bungalonley
In the mingled human drove,

And I long for bungaloafing
in some bungalotus grove,
In a cooling bunglocation
Where no troubling trails intrude,
‘Neath some bungalowly rooftree
In east bungalongitude.

Oh, I think with bungaloathing
Of the strangling social swim,
Where they wrangle after bangles
Or for some new-fangled whim;
And I know by bungalogic
That is all my bungalown
That a little bungalotion
Mendeth every mortal moan!

Oh, a man that's bungalonging
For the dingle and the loam
Is a very bungalobster
If he dangles on at home.
Catch the bungalocomotive;
If you cannot face the fee,
Why, a bungaloan ‘ll do it -
You can borrow it of me!

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We wish to thank local architect Bob Easton for a peek into his large library of architectural books, several of which helped us put the piece together.

As always, we encourage you to go out and explore our city, meet your neighbors, keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter, and above all, expect the unexpected.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 HATTIE agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-01 10:45 AM

thank you for this totally delightful hike chronicle! once again you've managed to capture the spirit of another santa barbara neighborhood. the "bungal-ode" was the cherry on the sundae. :-)

 

 COMMENT 218889 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-01 11:18 AM

Thanks again, UHers. We can be glad some people loved the bungalows enough to save them.

 

 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-01 01:10 PM

Wow! I've lived in SB for 63 years and never realized we had such a huge amount of bungalows all together. Kudos to whoever pushed it through to make it an historic designation. They (and your photos) are beautiful.

 

 COMMENT 218965P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-01 05:33 PM

What a beautiful neighborhood. Thanks Urban Hikers for showing it to us.

 

 COMMENT 218986 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-01 07:59 PM

I live in this neighborhood and love it. Thanks for highlighting our little piece of bungalow heaven.

 

 COMMENT 219011 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-02 07:29 AM

a delightful photo display...informative and inspiring....good carpentry is a joy to see.....

 

 COMMENT 219037 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-02 08:51 AM

This is absolutely superb! Thanks for presenting it. Made me want to get out of my very large house and move into one of these. A bungalover at heart.

 

 ARCHIE agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-02 09:04 AM

Thank you so much! I really do feel like getting out and walking -- I especially appreciate that most were of human size.

 

 COMMENT 219190 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-02 05:35 PM

Great post. There's a fun video walk through the neighborhood with Cheri Rae on the Santa Barbara Seasons blog. This program won't let us link to it unfortunately. "Bungalow Haven with Cheri Rae" is the title.

 

 CHERIDIANE agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-03 08:10 AM

Thank you, Urban Hikers! I so love the bungalow houses, admiring them all the time. Fun to see your article.

 

 GREENTOO agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-03 12:50 PM

The "Bungle-ode" made me laugh. The neighborhood is so human scale that it just murmurs "comfort" and "family". All the verandas seem to say "welcome, sit a spell". Thank you UH gang.

 

 COMMENT 219445 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-10-03 01:33 PM

Developers and planners could learn a thing or two about this kind of housing that is so warm, welcoming and enduring. No one is ever likely to pen an ode to a condominium or a mixed-use, high-density development.

 

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