by Gretchen Orr
WALSENBURG- A few years ago, Brian and I found a tourism promotion brochure for Huerfano County, that my great granddad, Louis B. Sporleder Sr., wrote and published in 1916. The cover was striking, with Arts & Crafts style lettering and an illustration of the Spanish Peaks and a plains Indian, perhaps “El Gran-do-te, the prophet of the Tarahumare Indians.” We had it reproduced as an art print on archival quality paper and began marketing it at Arts & Crafts Movement expos and on the web. At our first expo, held in Denver, we were stunned at the reception we got from shoppers. Not only did they love the print, they were all familiar with Walsenburg, and exclaimed repeatedly how Walsenburg had such beautiful and still affordable Arts & Crafts style bungalows. Many said they would dearly love to be able to buy a bungalow in Walsenburg, and move to our area.
We came home and began looking at our community’s architecture with a different eye.
Bungalows are to be found on virtually every block in Walsenburg, and are in varying states of preservation. Because our local economy has been depressed for a significant part of the 20th century, many of our bungalows have not been subjected to “remuddleing” and still have their original floorplans, windows, woodwork and hardwood floors.
But, what exactly is a bungalow? Bungalows have become the new darlings of the historic preservation movement. They were America’s favorite houses from the late 1900s until the Great Depression led to a decline in home construction. Today’s nostalgia for those years and the Arts & Crafts Movement’s strong belief that hard work, perseverence and dedication would make the world a better place have contributed to the resurgence of interest in the bungalow style.
A typical bungalow is a modest dwelling, with a prominent roofline, generously sized porch, a centrally placed living room and numerous large windows that helped to circulate air throughout the home as well as integrate the beauty of the outdoors into each room. Fresh air was considered crucial to good health, both physical and emotional. Bungalows were originally associated with vacation homes- retreats from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. That simplicity and dedication to relaxation and comfort became an integral part of bungalow living.
The style was eco friendly and “green” before it was trendy to be so. Bungalow design took its inspiration from simple natural materials and restful colors in harmony with nature. The ideals of family, hearth and home were built into the design of every bungalow. The excessive ornamentation, tiny rooms, and servants’ quarters of Victorian era homes were replaced by simple and substantial hand crafted materials and open floor plans, where the public spaces of the living room and dining room were planned in order to make the homes welcoming for gatherings of family and friends.