Can smaller homes bring more vitality to Beaufort?

04 Apr Can smaller homes bring more vitality to Beaufort?

Can encouraging smaller homes and more predictable approvals bring vitality to Beaufort? I think the answer is yes.

In Beaufort we refer to them as  cottages, but there are similarities to the bungalows mentioned in the story featured below. The story was shared by Beaufort architect Scott Sonic who worked on bungalows in Chicago.

The cottages in Beaufort were built by former slaves who, upon achieving respective building trade skills, worked together to build family homes. This is now referred to as the Northwest Quadrant.  The neighborhood features fine examples of cottages though many have fallen into disrepair. A large number have been lost to fire and/or neglect, leaving about forty percent of the neighborhood vacant.

This neighborhood is the core of the city, and, through its diversity, is in many ways part of the soul for our hometown character.  For many years, the city has invested in upgrading the infrastructure to make the neighborhood more desirable and to incentivize owners to take pride in this important part of our special city.  Furthermore, since considerably before I became Mayor, the city cobbled together dollars and partnered with organizations and individuals to help repair homes for those who could not maintain them for lack of financial resources. Former City Council Member Mike Sutton was heavily engaged in leading the more recent efforts and former Council Member Donnie Beer spearheaded the effort earlier with the help of an organization called Operation Good Neighbor and others.

As new homes are being built in the neighborhood, we need to be doing more to maintain the diversity and affordability of living in the greater downtown area.

The Art’s Council has proposed that the NWQ be designated as an Arts District, along with city codes that make building houses in the neighborhood less complicated and more affordable.  They believe bringing accessory units (guest houses, in-law houses, or rental units)  and smaller homes to the neighborhood will bring vitality to a neighborhood that needs it while at the same time attracting artists seeking to find affordable studio/homes.

In the coming weeks City Council will be considering the proposal and I will report our progress. In the meantime, check the news or City Council agendas on-line to learn when we will have a work session where the public is invited to share your thoughts.

Check out the following article.

It’s a Good Time to Snag an Historic Chicago Bungalow
Kay Severinsen By Kay Severinsen 10.04.2022 | Buying
I used to think Chicago bungalows looked like houses wearing tiny hats. The upper level typically has a small dormered (hat shaped) window overlooking the street.

Back in the 1910s to 1940s, the basic bungalow was considered a working man’s home. Chicago’s population was booming, and in fact doubled in just a few decades to 3.3 million.

Families moving out of cramped city apartments saw bungalows, which had modern conveniences like heating, plumbing and electricity, as a big step up. They were often 1½-story homes, with accessible attics that could be converted to living space.

To accommodate the new residents, Chicago developers built tens of thousands of bungalows on former farms and prairie fields on the outskirts of the city. That ring of new homes is now called the bungalow belt.What is a bungalow

Bungalow floor plans would have been familiar to families moving from a standard three-flat. In the front, there was a side entry and living room. In the middle, there was a dining room and a couple of bedrooms, and in the back, there was a kitchen. Over the years the homes, typically solid brick, aged, got remodeled or abused.

It’s not happenstance that bungalows are now chic and trendy. In the 1990s, Southsider Charles Shanabruch, a St. Xavier University professor and Beverly neighborhood activist, was dismayed that he had two bungalows he could not sell. He worried that Chicagoans were overlooking the gems right under their noses.

“It was really tragic,” Shanabruch said. “Bungalows are such a part of our housing stock.”

He thought about how they could be made more attractive, and worked with architect Scott Sonoc to develop a program to make Chicago’s approximately 80,000 bungalows more appealing.

Marilyn Katz, president of MK Communications, worked on the project. “We launched a campaign that both celebrated the bungalow as Chicago’s most iconic housing and provided people with the resources and techniques through which they could restore their own bungalows,” she explained in an email.

“It was this combination of praise and possibility that did the trick. We also created [the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association] which people could join for free […] and held workshops on various aspects of bungalows.” The association also offered grants and low-cost loans to members who wanted to improve their bungalows.

The movement has been good for property values. Prices for tastefully renovated bungalows reflect their popularity; it’s not unusual to find the most fabulous, restored specimens listing for $700,000 and more. You can also find bargains for under $200,000.

Many tend to be in the $300,000 to $700,000 range, said Dream Town real estate agent and bungalow expert Susie Kanter. “And the closer you get to the city (center) the higher the prices,” she said.

Most people end up buying a bungalow because it is the best home at the best price, Kanter said. “But there is a small percentage of bungalow purists who know that is what they want.”

Allison Garwood Freedland, a program manager at the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects, has lived in a bungalow in Peterson Park for about 12 years. When she and her husband moved in, the home had an unfinished upper level. They added two bedrooms, a bath and a playroom up there for their two daughters.

“A vintage home has its challenges,” she said, “but not because it’s a bungalow. It’s 80 to 100 years old and you have to find ways to make it adapt to the way we live now. I think people [who own bungalows] are lucky. There is a lot of bang for your buck in a bungalow.”

If you think you would like to live in a piece of Chicago history, a bungalow might be for you. Here are some things to consider:

Don’t buy a bungalow expecting a maintenance-free lifestyle. Old bungalows need TLC and are great for owners who like projects. Even if you’re happy to buy the results of someone else’s project, bungalows need ongoing care, just as any other old home does.
The city of Chicago and other entities are encouraging bungalow owners to renovate and preserve bungalows. Those homeowners will find tax credits, special programs and enticements to help you learn about and care for your home. So far, you don’t see this kind of attention for every iconic home style – the 1950s ranch, for example – so feel the love and enjoy the help.
The Historic Chicago Bungalow Association ( is an excellent resource, offering seminars, workshops, an online forum and an excellent list of experts. Bungalow owners who fix up their properties can enter their project in the annual Historic Chicago Bungalow Association / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation awards. This year the deadline to enter is November 6.
Bungalows have lived through decades of changes and some have been refinished in a way that is now considered insensitive. Purists may disdain the remodeling efforts of years past, but to be more forgiving, attitudes have changed. We now have more options and products for homeowners who want to keep their old homes in character. And if the bungalow that fits your price range has bathrooms redone in 1980s beige, that gives you a project that will add value to your home.
You might be buying a bungalow in one of the city’s 10 (and counting) National Register Chicago Bungalow Historic Districts. Homeowners in historic districts are eligible for a property tax freeze for up to 12 years, according to the bungalow association. The current districts include: Falconer (Belmont Cragin), North Mayfair, Wrightwood, Rogers Park Manor, Schorch Irving Park Gardens, South Park Manor (Chatham) South Shore, Talman West Ridge, West Chatham and Auburn Gresham.