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Early Twentieth-Century Building Styles

Architectural design in the early 20th century presented the country with a new group of styles less

Bungalow 1905-1925
Arts and Crafts 1900-1915
Prairie School 1905-1925

dependent on historical models than were the styles of the preceding Victorian period. As with other major stylistic periods, commencement or concluding dates are not precise, and various popular styles frequently overlap.

For example, Victorian cottages in styles such as the Queen Anne were built contemporaneously with bungalows. One of the most visible features of the Bungalow, Arts and Crafts, Prairie School, and other styles of the early 20th century was a lack of the busy three-dimensional ornamentation so early-20th-cent1_largepopular in the Victorian period. This is not to say that the new architecture lacked ornamentation altogether, but it was more reserved and less three dimensional. Utah’s building tradition quickly absorbed the Bungalow, Arts and Crafts, and Prairie School styles during this period of economic prosperity.

The origin of the Bungalow house type has been traced to a dwelling common in India and noted for its verandas. Its popularity in the United States, and particularly Utah, was due in part to the American Arts and Crafts movement. The bungalow was intended to be a comfortable-looking, low profile house that communicated a sense of shelter. This new type of residence became an Everyman’s house, replacing the Victorian cottage of the 1880s and the 1890s.

The bungalow came to be a style as well as a building type, and numerous builders’ magazines and pattern books (published by such companies as “Bungalowcraft” of Los Angeles) sketched out many variations on the basic Bungalow. Proponents touted these plans as open and informal in nature and spatially economical.

In early 20th-century Utah, as in other areas of the developing western United States, particularly California, the bungalow became one of the most popular residences. Its popularity in California led to a subtype that the designs of the brothers Charles and Henry Greene of Pasadena further enhanced. Thus, a prototypical “California bungalow” was a one-story (two stories on occasion) wood-frame house with a low-pitched roof and partially exposed framing members in its gable ends.

Bungalows were frequently dressed in Neoclassical, Swiss Chalet, Tudor, California, Mission, Arts and Crafts, and Prairie School decorative motifs. In Utah, the latter two were the most popular styles for bungalows.

The Arts and Crafts style in America resulted from several influences: the original English movement, called “Arts and Crafts” and led by designer William Morris, who elevated the concept of craftsmanship to art; the work of English architects C. F. A. Voysey and Sir Edwin Lutyens; and the publications of Gustav Stickley, one of the spiritual leaders of the American Arts and Crafts movement, whose Craftsman Magazine contained articles by designers, artisans, artists, and early-20th-cent2_largearchitects.

The Arts and Crafts architectural style appeared most frequently in domestic designs, although it also appeared in some civic and religious architecture. Arts and Crafts residences are generally large, two-story structures emphasizing natural materials such as wood shingles, exposed components of the wood structural frame, and brick and stone masonry, including cobblestones and clinker brick. As with the bungalow, the house designs often included porches and verandas, creating an impression of informal living and connecting the house to its site.


The early work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his Midwest associates gave rise to the Prairie Style, popular during the first two decades of the 20th century. In addition to creating clean, precise, angular forms, the Prairie School emphasized horizontality. This spareness of appearance was accomplished by the use of masonry or stucco over masonry or wood frame construction, highlighted by wood or cast stone banding. The building often accentuated the texture of its materials and featured abstract patterns in stained and leaded glass.

The Prairie School style was particularly popular in Utah, probably because some of Utah’s architects worked in Chicago during the inception of the style. One such architect, Taylor Woolley, apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright in the mentor’s Oak Park studio during the first decade of the century. The appearance of the style in Utah also coincided with a period of rapid urban growth along the Wasatch Front. Between 1910 and 1920, a number of architects in Salt Lake City and Ogden specialized in the style.

Some of these found it especially appropriate as a “modern” style for Latter-day Saint ward house and seminary buildings. Architects also designed schools, public libraries, clubs, and commercial structures in this style.

As mentioned above, the bungalow expressed comfort and a sense of shelter, qualities emphasized by the texture of exposed beams, rafters, shingles, bricks, cobblestones, and other structural features. Bungalow plans were advertised as open, informal, and economical. The front door of the bungalow often opened directly into the dining room.

The most popular house type in Utah during the first quarter of the 20th century, bungalows are common throughout the state. However, the bungalow court—a group of bungalows separated by a walkway—that was common in other areas of the United States was rare in Utah. The bungalow became the basic middle-class house, replacing the Victorian cottage of the later 19th century. Numerous pattern books, many published in bungalow1_largeCalifornia, helped make it popular, as did a period of economic prosperity that allowed families to purchase their first homes.

–one or one and a half stories on a rectangular plan
–several major roof types: (1) long, steeply pitched roofs with eaves parallel to the street covering porches that stretch the full width of the façade; (2) low-pitched roofs in California bungalows; (3) hip roofs in Prairie-style examples
–dormers in the slope of the roof, often facing the street
–cobblestone and/or brick (especially clinker brick) foundations
–shingle siding
–wood banding
–exposed rafters, purlins, ridge beams, brackets
–projecting bays on the main floor
–casement windows
–battered (i.e., rough-textured) stone piers supporting porch roofs
–geometrically patterned leaded or stained-glass windows

This style emerged from the pages of Craftsman Magazine (1901-170), a publication containing articles by designers, artisans, and architects sympathetic to the Arts and Crafts movement in America. As a style of architecture, it was mostly adapted to domestic designs, along with small civic commissions like schools, libraries, city halls and small churches.

Arts and Crafts houses are generally large, two-story buildings that emphasize such elements of arst_crafts1_largetheir wood frame construction as rafters, purlins, and ridge beams. Some examples of the style also had half-timbering reminiscent of English Tudor architecture. Porches and verandas aided in creating an impression of informal living and seemed to unite the house with the landscape.

In the interiors, natural materials such as stained or oiled wood achieved a cozy, informal quality. Interiors featured inglenooks, tiled fireplaces, built-in bench seats, wood paneling and wainscoting, and metal fixtures whose surfaces often had the appearance of a hand-beaten finish. The innovative Arts and Crafts design philosophy also had an influence upon the Prairie School style.

–large, two-story buildings, often with moderated to steeply pitched roofs pierced by gables and dormers
–wide porches
–side, overhanging eaves
–cobblestone and/or brick (especially clinker brick) foundations
–shingle and/or stucco on exterior walls
–exposed framing members such as rafters, purlins, and ridge beams
–exposed framing members with panels infilled with stucco
–casement windows with stained and leaded glass or double-hung windows with small square lights in the upper half

The early work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his Midwest associates gave rise to the Prairie Style, popular during the first two decades of the 20th century. In addition to creating clean, precise, angular forms, the Prairie School emphasized horizontality. Masonry or stucco walls contributed to a spare appearance.

Details such as wood or cast stone banding might accentuate the texture of the materials. Leaded or prairie-school1_largestained glass windows contribute abstract patterns.

Residential, ecclesiastical, and civic buildings used this innovative style; it was particularly popular in Utah for residences and for LDS Church meetinghouses. Residential designs included one-story, narrow, masonry bungalows, well-suited to narrow city lots, and larger, symmetrical, two-story houses, nearly square or rectangular in form, with casement windows and hipped roofs with wide, overhanging eaves.

–low, hipped roof
–wide, overhanging eaves
–brick masonry, stucco over masonry, or stucco over wood frame construction
–single-story porch or porte cochere projecting from the house
–horizontal bands of cast stone or concrete coping
–wood banding on wall surfaces and under eaves
–casement windows with geometric patterns created in stained and/or leaded glass or with wooden muntins
–mullions topped with cast geometric ornamentation