The casual and cozy cottages so prevalent in St. Petersburg's Historic Kenwood neighborhood and Tampa's Seminole Heights carry more history than most of their owners likely know. The architecture seems Western in so many ways, but actually has roots in the Far East, India to be exact.
Bungalows were first designed by the British for use in colonial India in the late 1880s. The homes came to the United States soon after, with many bungalows being built between 1910 and 1940. The style originated in the eastern state of Bengal, where they were called bangla or bangala. It's not much of a stretch to see how the name became bungalow.
Simple bungalows were a response to the Victorian era, during which large homes were opulently designed and decorated. Think of the classic painted ladies of San Francisco. Bungalows represented a return to simpler life, and were the first mass-produced homes in California and Florida. Sears even sold Craftsman bungalow house plans via mail.
Today, Kenwood celebrates its architectural history with the annual BungalowFest Home Tour (see box above for details).
So what makes a home a bungalow? Kenwood's resident historian Bob Jeffrey shared his thoughts:
• A bungalow is characterized by a one- or 1 1/2-story structure, typically wood frame.
• Most have a wide porch and overhanging eaves.
• Bungalows are often asymmetrical.
• They have numerous and various-sized windows.
• They often look handcrafted rather than highly designed.
• The roofs are usually low-slung, often with a flared line.
There are several styles within the bungalow classification, including Tudor, Mediterranean revival, Craftsman and cottage.
Examples from the Historic Kenwood neighborhood are pictured here.
Janet K. Keeler, Times lifestyles editor