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Sunday, October 11, 2009

The 1960s Infill Bungalow: Love It or Hate It?

You know what I'm talking about if you live in south St. Louis.
Little 1960s bungalows appear on urban lots in some of St. Louis's oldest neighborhoods, including Benton Park, Marine Villa, and Tower Grove East.

To an urbanist or architectural purist, these small homes are an affront to neighborhood scale and further present a conflict in their styling and materials as well. Quite often situated between two and three story red brick homes, they appear as squat intruders, wannabes trying to hang with the big boys.

I find them charming. They seem to me to loosely reference a "bungalow", which is why I've named them what I did.

Because they're located all over St. Louis, no one is significant singularly, and I'd doubt that any proposed demolition of one of these mod-homes would draw much of a protest. But, for as long as they remain, they remind preservationists of the benefit of living in a city whose built environment has gone through violent upheaval. That benefit is a diversity of housing options unseen in many other places.

Check out the 1960s bungalows below and register your opinion: are they horrible intrusions into otherwise beautiful historic districts; are they welcome additions to St. Louis's architectural milieu; or should this be a matter of unresolved ambivalence?

Tower Grove East

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Benton Park

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Mount Pleasant

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Chris said...

At the bare minimum, they respect the street wall. So much crap built nowadays doesn't in the city. I like them, though I would probably never buy one.

Unknown said...

I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I love them. They're the more modern equivalent of the one-story shotgun homes to be found in FPSE and many other neighborhoods. I know that there are inventive and attractive ways to renovate these buildings. Of course I wouldn't mind if a few of them were bulldozed. My initial reaction to seeing one is always negative, but this is largely because I have never seen one significantly updated.

Vanishing STL said...

I would much rather have these than a vacant lot. There are a few of these on corners of Waterman in Skinky D.

I would not strongly oppose the demolition of one if someone were to build a new house in its place, but I think it would be quite silly to do that, since it wastes the embodied energy of everything that went into building it. I have always thought that they make good candidates for story up additions if someone wants a larger house, and don't really mind that they don't "fit-in". Variety makes the City interesting.

STLgasm said...

I love them too. They are cute and they respect the small urban lots on which they are built. There's an especially charming one on Waterman in Skinky-D that has windmills and pink flamingoes in the front yard-- does it get any cooler than that???

What are your feelings about these lovely suckers:

My thoughts-- While not the most attractive, they do respect the urban lots, and they are loveable for their earthy dated look. I have seen many variations of these ugly ducklings-- light blue, green, brown, beige, tan, red. Bottom line is, there is absolutely no reason to tear these down unless they are being replaced by something better (that does NOT include faux-historic infill).

Linda Austin said...

They don't fit in, look like child playhouses amidst the real houses, but be careful about tearing them down lest the McMonsters come in and turn things upside down like in my StL suburb. Posted a YouTube vid protesting at

john w. said...

I'm not particularly fond of these little homes, but I don't think they need updating either. Let them be.

Brian said...

For me, it depends on the context. In Skinker-DeBaliviere or Benton Park, heck no. In North Hampton, they seem to work for some reason though.

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