What Local Historic District DOES NOT do: · Does not regulate paint colors · Does not require repairs or renovations to be made · Does not increase taxes beyond normal increases for the City or County · Does not prevent additions · Does not prevent non-contributing homes from being demolished · Does not require use of historic materials or historic building methods · Does not require that you open you home to the public · Does not restrict routine maintenance of properties
What Local Historic District DOES do: · Recognizes that Oakhurst has a distinctive historic character important to the overall character of the City of Decatur · Encourages creative and compatible development with historic areas · Requires that a Certificate of Appropriateness be obtained for exterior changes to contributing properties, demolition of buildings, and new construction. · Applies only to major renovations to the exterior of your home. Interior renovations are not restricted.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Now You See Them, Soon You Won't

Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t, Discover disappearing architectural treasures

The bungalow was a popular house type with the growing middle class across America during the early twentieth century. Ample porches, wide eaves, local building materials and natural ventilation made the bungalow well suited to South Florida’s subtropical environment. In spite of their practicality, bungalows today are rapidly disappearing from the Miami landscape to make room for new developments.
Miami’s bungalows, with their wide porches, overhanging eaves, and natural ventilation, have a place in South Florida history. The homes, perfect for our subtropical environment, sprouted from 1914 to 1920 in Edgewater, Riverside, Shorecrest, Shenandoah, Little Havana, and Miami Shores. As Miami’s landscape is transformed, these bungalows are vanishing. To help to preserve them, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida opened a Miami Bungalows exhibit on May 18. “The exhibition came about because of the huge transformation taking place in Miami, specifically the downtown area,” said guest curator Jose Vazquez, assistant professor of architecture at Miami Dade College. “We wanted Miami to understand their architectural significance, and to document these structures that will be lost forever.” Thousands of bungalows remain throughout South Florida, many listed on Dade Heritage Trust’s Most Endangered Historic Sites. Developers are allowed to knock them down for new buildings, but the Trust managed to save one bungalow from demolition: Little Havana’s Hubbard-Alvarez house, which features a second half-story used as a bedroom/sleeping porch. The museum’s exhibition runs through September 9.
Residents that oppose the proposed historic district for Oakhurst have written your commissioners to tell them that the bungalow is not worth saving. Why? Apparently they feel they are not architecturally significant. Apparently they feel there are too many of them. That is what they contend. If you disagree, contact your commissioners. Support the local historic district.


Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but that is in Miami, not Decatur or Atlanta. The pressure for redevelopment in Miami (because one side is the ocean and one side is the Everglades) does not exist in our area. I'm sorry, but any comparison is just plain ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Hi anonymous,
The point of the original post is to say that bungalows are with saving and that they are under pressure all over America. There was an article in the ONA leaflet last month that basically stated that bungalows where not worth saving. This post just shows that people do consider them worth saving. Also I disagree, there is pressure to redevelop. If you look around it's happening everyday. Developers are like any business they follow trends. It's like a school of fish. If one developer goes one way there is a good change that the others will follow. In about year 2005 the developers started going in the direction of demolishing renovatable houses and building to the maximum sizes allowed. This trend is gaining momentum in Oakhurst to the point where all non renovated houses for sale with decent size lots will be demolished. Many of us think this is a big problem and LHD is the only method available at this time to stop the destruction of our neighborhood character, history and architecture.

pam said...

I'm surprised that you can't find the correlation in this article between the vanishing of Bungalows in Miami and the vanishing of Bungalows here in Decatur. You can only get so close to Atlanta (which is our ocean) and buddy - we are just about as close to it as you can get. And there is no question that our Bungalows are being torn down left and right.

I’m curious, do you think Miami should be concerned about their Bungalows being torn down; and if so, should they have a right to preserve them thru a Local Historic District?

I think the point is that the Bungalow is a piece of American history and it is worth saving – regardless of what city they are located. And that we are not alone in Metro Atlanta / Decatur in our efforts to try and save the American Bungalow, other cities realize that they are losing a part of history and architecture and are trying to do something positive about it.

Keep on trucking Local Historic Districts - EVERYWHERE!!

ante gamisou said...

All old building should be saved if they are significant. History is very important for survival of culture. I don't see a shortage of bungalows as they are the most numerous house type in all of metro area. They are more plentiful than cudzoo and they were the infill housing of their time.

Most people refuse to live in 2 bedroom 1 bath house today, so we renovate the bungalow! Some wood structure cannot be renovated when neglected like many of our bungalow. You cannot save a rotten building with termites. The new buildings look out of place and many poorly designed. Maybe builders need better plans? Can we really have the giant house we want without it looking giant? The renovators were here at beginning of decade and like the fruit stand, they have picked all the good fruit. Typical trends for building is that the new home builders always follow after the renovator has picked the fruit.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ante,
Thanks for your input. You are correct there are fewer and fewer houses to renovate and, although I would argue there are very few but some of the houses are unsalvageable. The problem is that what is happening with the demolition is a pattern or a set path. First ugly and unsalvageable houses are demolished, we have seen this in the past and then, as we are seeing now, houses that can be renovated and could be beautiful are demolished and then beautiful and what most people would consider renovated houses are demolished. This patron has played itself out all the way through in Virginia Highlands. I for one want this pattern stopped now before it goes any further.

Anonymous said...

You can save a building with termites. Every house I've bought has had termite damage. Most homes in GA will have termite damage. It is not the kiss of death.

Robert said...


Local historic district does not prevent demolition of a home that can not be preserved. Homes are allowed to be renovated under LHD to the maximum floor area and lot coverage allowed by zoning. As an example there is a renovated home and new home on 3rd Avenue. The renovated home has more square footage of living space and same number of rooms. The City of Decatur can not dictate design or better plans as you state via zoning. It is against the law. The pressure we are seeing in Oakhurst is that land value means our historic properties are at risk.

Bungalows seem plentiful. But if we continue to lose one a month will they still be? Why save money when you can meet all of your expenses and spend the rest on fun? We are not asking to preserve all of the bungalows of the world only the ones that Darlene Roth called "the defining housing style for the City of Decatur".