A couple weeks ago my town Historical Society staged their annual historic house tour. The homes on this year’s tour were all the same genre’……………American Craftsman Bungalow.
This was a movement in the early 20th century, actually originating in England by William Morris (the Morris chair), who was tired of the excessive Victorian architecture and the machine-driven Industrial Age. Morris and his followers wanted to return to the pre-industrial “handmade” society.
I see a definite parallel between this movement and the current atmosphere that we, ourselves, are actually a part of in that we espouse “handmade” as opposed to the manufactured, “cookie cutter” design we see all around us. We see it as finer, more quality driven rather than quantity, we see it as long lasting rather than “throw-away”.
These early pioneers of “handmade” had the same view point.
This movement traveled across the pond and was spearheaded in the U.S. by a gentleman named Elbert Hubbard, author (A Message to Garcia which sold 40 million copies, translated into 37 languages and made into a movie), lecturer and entrepreneur.
He was the founder of the Roycroft Campus, a national historic landmark, located in the small western NY hamlet of East Aurora. In it’s heyday, 500 people were employed there. It became a mecca for notable artists, authors, philosophers, and power brokers.
Today the Roycroft Campus is a living museum, which presents conferences, holds classes and demonstrations and is definitely worth a visit to little East Aurora, NY. To learn more about the Roycroft Campus, visit www.roycroftcampuscorporation.com
Back to the houses on the tour. Each of these homes was built in that historical period and in the arts and crafts style. The home that you see in the middle picture was actually built by the current owner’s immigrant father from a Sears and Roebuck kit ♥. I was very impressed that all the homes were kept in period with their interior and exterior décor. When you entered, it was like walking into your grandmother’s or great grandmother’s house.
As you can see from the pictures, bungalows were not ostentatious buildings. They used the space very economically. Dormer windows for upstairs bedrooms, therefore, slanted ceilings in all these rooms. You would often see built in buffets in dining rooms, with leaded glass in the doors and perhaps a stained glass medallion in the middle of windows in the rest of the house. There may be handmade tiles surrounding the fireplace. All in all, the homes had a very “spare” look but yet still warm and cozy.
In my little town, we are blessed to have 30 plus Art and Crafts homes. All built between 1910 and 1930. The historical society included a map with our tour flyer, so that we can have a look at them and marvel at the genius of the “movers and shakers” of our local history.