Historic bungalow district for Portage Park section sought


The Chicago Historic Bungalow Association has proposed that a section of the Portage Park community be nominated to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic bungalow district.

Alderman Timothy Cullerton (38th) said that unlike city landmark status, a national register listing does not prevent the demolition of a building and does not place an extra burden on those seeking to build an addition to their home.

"It is really recognition of a special historic area without any of the strings attached," Cullerton said. "People will still be able to build a new dormer or get a remodeling permit."

Bungalow owners in a national register district are eligible for grant and tax incentive programs which encourage the rehabilitation of historic structures, association deputy director Faith Rackow said. Rackow said that in instances in which a large project, such as the construction of a federal highway, would wipe out a significant portion of a district, the designation requires that alternatives be examined.

There are about 80,000 bungalows in the city, and 10 city neighborhoods, including North Mayfair and Irving Park Gardens, have a historic designation. The association requires that at least two-thirds of the buildings on each block of a district be a bungalow.

According to the association, 188 of the 226 primary structures in the proposed Portage Park district are bungalows, and bungalow construction in the area peaked in 1925 and 1926. Typical features of a bungalow are a 1 1/2-story height, a facade with face brick and stone trim, a low-pitched roof with an overhang, an offset front entrance or a side entrance, a full basement and large windows.

The approximate boundaries of the proposed district are Pensacola Avenue on the north, Lockwood Avenue on the east, Hutchinson Street on the south and Central Avenue on the west. The north side of the 5300 block of Pensacola and both sides of the 5500 block of Hutchinson would not be included, and a small portion of the district would extend south of Hutchinson to take in the north side of the 5300 block of Berteau Avenue.

Rackow said that city and state historic agencies are required to review a national register application before it is submitted to the National Park Service, which oversees the register. She said that the Portage Park designation is expected to be approved later this year and that the association has been preparing applications for new districts as resources and funds become available.

About 20 people attended the association’s Jan. 7 community meeting on the proposal.