What do we love about Echo Park? Here’s an easy one: bungalows!
Whatever the style — Arts and Crafts, Spanish Colonial, Tudor, Colonial Revival — bungalows can be found up and down Echo Park’s hills and canyons. The modest and dignified bungalow reminds us of our neighborhood’s past.
Over the past two decades, the EPHS has pursued different strategies to preserve and promote our neighborhood’s historic, (mostly) one-story bungalows. We’ve printed brochures to discourage homeowners from spraying stucco over the wood exteriors, which protects the clapboard or shingles. We hosted workshops on how to remove stucco from the exterior. We even helped a few property owners remove the stucco themselves — thanks to EPHS volunteers!
The EPHS also has offered free workshops on how to (cheaply) fix sash wood windows, which rely on weights and pulleys to move up and down. We even showed people what’s inside our neighborhood’s bungalows, hosting six home tours built around different themes: hillsides, public staircases and Echo Park Lake, to name a few.
Echo Park’s major period of growth took place during the first 40 years of the 20th century. According to Over the Rainbow, Merry Ovnick’s book on Los Angeles residential architecture, the style for such homes changed every few years during this period, falling in and out of fashion. For example, Spanish Revival style, with its plaster exterior and red tile roofs, came into vogue at the turn of the century, went away and then came back again.
Arts and Crafts was the rage during World War I, turning up on streets like Echo Park Avenue, Mohawk Street, Morton Avenue, Douglas Street and Cerro Gordo Avenue, among others. By 1920, however, that style was effectively over. After the soldiers returned, builders soon became intrigued by more traditional look — and Greek columns — of the Colonial Revival style.
In the 1920s, Ovnick says, Hollywood set builders helped to drive an interest in storybook cottages in the style of Tudor and Mediterranean Revival. Those more European styles can be found on streets like Princeton, Sargent, Valentine, Lucretia, Avon, Park and Sargent.
Eventually, lots on hilly streets slowly filled in, allowing for a variety of styles to take hold on the same block. Builders in the 1950s filled out the last of the empty lots, with homes that were mostly spare and functional. The era of the bungalow was in the past.
So as you walk, bicycle or drive through the neighobrhood, take a moment to appreciate the stately bungalow in all its forms. With our hotter than hot real estate market, they are more precious than ever.
— The EPHS