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