And A Feeling Runs Through It
American Bungalow Magazine|Issue 99 Fall 2019
Old houses and old people, their histories and their mysteries, are inscribed deep inside their old bones.
Richard Katz

My own personal set of bones has been given a pretty good run, all in all. Travel, community, family, and numerous professions and avocations keep me young and keep me going. But how these old bones of mine became interwoven with the old bones of a particular Midwestern bungalow is the nature of my story. It begins in my younger days, as a young architect.

When I met Susan, my beautiful bride-to-be, we often talked about our future—career goals, family, and home life, and what the future might hold for us. It was then that I made a promise of sorts. I will build a house for us—a place of beauty, where our children will grow to be wonderful people, where family and friends will gather often, where the dog will sleep belly-up by the fireplace on cold and snowy winter nights, and where the summer nights in the garden will awaken our Druid spirits.

I envisioned, in my imagination, a woodsy house, with great glass windows and a beautiful entryway. The house would be like a palace, filled with art and artifacts from our travels all around the world. There would be a library for reading on those winter nights. There would be a great room with a cathedral ceiling that opened up to the moon and stars. The landscaping that would surround the house would have flowing fountains, sculptures, and quiet places to enjoy nature under a canopy of pines and maples.

These were the dreams, and dreams they were to remain. Or so we thought.

In 1981, our daughter Rachel was born. At that time, interest rates for home loans were hitting 18%. Housing was scarce and expensive. There would be no beautiful house of my own design.

We set out on a much more conventional search, with baby Rachel in the back seat, to find a modest house, hopefully with good old bones and within our means.

Amidst the grand mansions and stunning architecture of the famous Chicago suburb of Oak Park, we found her.

Although dilapidated and neglected, she had a certain dignity in her honest simple lines and masses. There was nothing fake about her, no pretense of being more than what she was—simply a bungalow with a steep roof and dormers for the second floor. She had old bones, going back to 1915, but they were good old bones—promising bones. In some ways, she was an architectural blank slate. We bought her.

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