This Chicago Bungalow was built in 1925 for Aloisius and Susan Becker. The architect was A.E. Norman, who designed many of Andersonville’s finest buildings. The construction and craftsmanship of this custom-built home was under the direction of A. Lundberg.
Architect Norman’s design shows the influence of several American design movements of the early 20th century. As you look at the magnificent front bay, you see banded French windows and wide overhanging eaves, which are essential elements of the Prairie style popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright. Another Prairie influence can be seen in the band of decorative limestone that wraps around the house below the window line, giving the home a horizontal emphasis. The massive brick columns that narrow at the top are typical design elements of the Craftsman style, as is the use of natural and local building materials.
As you step inside the entry hall, the home appears very much as it did in 1925, when Aloisius and Susan Becker moved in with their two sons, Arthur and Alois. To your left is the gracious living room, which features the original stained glass windows in a colorful geometric pattern. The hand-finished woodwork is birch and the floors are red oak. The fireplace features an unusual brick diamond pattern and its built-in bookcases and mantel are typical of Arts and Crafts design. In the evening, the eight wall sconces cast a golden glow throughout this spacious room.
The dining room is separated from the front hall by French doors. The woodwork in the dining room is quarter-sawn white oak. The plate rail and wainscoting are standard Craftsman dining room features. The dining room furniture is a Gustav Stickley design. Stickley was the “father” of the American Arts and Crafts movement and, through his furniture company and his magazine, The Craftsman, he revolutionized residential design in the early 1900s. The colors used throughout the house are typical of the Arts and Crafts period, which advocated all things natural and organic. According to Stickley, a deep-green dining room had a calming effect and supposedly aided one’s digestion.
The quarter-sawn white oak woodwork continues on into the kitchen. Although the kitchen is not original to the home, every detail is true to the period. The cupboards were custom-made in New Hampshire and are true reproductions of the cupboards found in the home’s original butler’s pantry. The rectangular wall tile and hexagonal floor tile are traditional materials for the period. While the appliances are certainly a nod to modernity, their stainless steel finish gives them a utilitarian look that is fitting of the period.
Back in the entry hall, the staircase leads us up to the second floor hallway. The embossed wallcovering is Anaglypta from England. This was the traditional wallcovering for stairways and the name is derived from the Greek ana (up) glypta (glide). At the top of the stairs, note the massive pocket door. We will be viewing the bedroom at the end of the hallway. As you pass the master bathroom, peek in and notice the traditional wall and floors tiles and the period white porcelain fixtures. During the Arts and Crafts period, bathrooms were simple, utilitarian and sanitary.
In the north bedroom, notice the angles of the roof line, which is reminiscent of traditional German cottage architecture. An interesting note is that this bedroom, one of five original to the home, must have been an “upgrade” not in the original plans. We can tell this because the oak floor boards stop at the doorway and also because the radiator was retrofitted. This bedroom has Mission style furnishings. The term Mission was coined by Gustav Stickley in an advertisement for his furniture. He wanted to evoke a romantic image of a Spanish Mission in order to help sell his machine-made furniture.
As you leave the home, notice the cobblestone side drive and patio, which have been beautifully landscaped. Be sure to notice the spacious back porch which repeats several of the Arts and Crafts motifs found throughout the house. The garage still has the original radiator heating system. This Chicago Bungalow was as outstanding in 1925 as it is today.