WEST RIDGE – BUNGALOW LOVER’S DREAM NEIGHBORHOOD

Do you dream of someday placing your gorgeous mission style dining table beneath a crystal chandelier in the midst of a dining room circa 1924?   Do you imagine showcasing your treasured Bavarian china in cabinets, leaded glass doors intact, flanking a built-in buffet?   How about looking up to admire the patina of vintage crown moldings above, gleaming hardwood floors below?      Do you see built-in bookcases and a fireplace flanked by sconces and stained-glass windows in the living room?

You’re not alone in your dream of owning a bungalow.   Your dream could come true in Chicago’s West Ridge Bungalow District, an historic 1920s enclave of culturally diverse people who love bungalow-style architecture.   These 1920s-era structures overflow with character thanks to the designs of notable architects Benedict Bruns, Lyman Allison, A.E. Norman and Ernest Braucher.

See the beauty for yourself and walk or drive through The West Ridge Bungalow District.   Meander around the 6600 block of North Fairfield Avenue, the 2700 block of West North Shore Avenue, the 6600 block of North Washtenaw Avenue, the 6400, 6500, 6600 and 6700 blocks of North Talman Avenue, the 2600 and 2700 blocks of West Albion Avenue, the 6500 block of North Rockwell Street, the 2500 block of West Arthur Avenue, the 6500 block of North Maplewood Avenue and the West side of the 6500 block of North Campbell Avenue.

True to its 1920s roots, West Ridge has remained just as culturally diverse as when it was settled.     The neighborhood’s residents like it that way.   Longtime West Ridge resident Maribeth Brewer is one of them.     Brewer, who runs West Ridge Bungalow Neighbors, has faith in the neighborhood’s rich ethnic past, present and future.   Maribeth Brewer and her husband, Greg, an architect, love the bungalow they have restored and called home for the past 8 years.   You can join the lively neighborhood association of West Ridge Bungalow Neighbors for only $15 per year.   This is a small price paid to learn more about the area’s history, meet neighbors, help educate the public about the neighborhood, and be a part of the historic area’s preservation and future.

Maribeth Brewer and other volunteers, with guidance from the Historic Chicago Bungalows Association, were instrumental in putting their neighborhood on the Chicago map of must-see neighborhoods.   Their painstaking research efforts of every structure in existence within the boundaries of the West Ridge neighborhood yielded a significant end result:    Becoming an official member on the National Register of Historic Places.     Homes on the blocks listed above make up Talman West Ridge (so named Talman West Ridge as Talman Avenue lies at the district’s center).   This puts this area of rich bungalow architecture, perhaps a well-kept secret, on the map, and understandably so.   You can get away from it all and still be in the city in this quiet yet vibrant neighborhood where your local park also has a petting zoo.

Like Maribeth Brewer, who loves 1920s structures and cultural diversity, you too can live in a vintage 1920s bungalow full of character within walking distance of more character.   Enjoy an afternoon with a spicy lunch at one of Devon Avenue’s restaurants.   Stroll around the markets and other cultural venues as you watch the people.   You’ll be swept from Chicago to India, Pakistan, and Israel, if only for an afternoon.

Watch for my next blog, where you will hear of my recent meeting with members of the West Ridge Bungalow Association.   You’ll learn how affordable and accessible this historic neighborhood is for you.

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