Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bungalow Bliss at Hovey Court

In most of my early adulthood, I must admit I was pretty oblivious to architecture and the positive impact well-designed spaces can have on communities. But as I've become more exposed to some basic knowledge of architecture through my work and my interest in roadside archeology, I have found fulfillment in taking time to learn about and notice the historic structures around me. And living in a 1924 bungalow has made me a big fan of the Craftsman style of the early twentieth century in particular.

In Orlando, one of the best examples of the Craftsman style of architecture is Hovey Court, a bungalow court built as guest cottages between 1913 and 1919. Located on Lake Lucerne within the City of Orlando's Lake Cherokee Historic District, the complex is currently used as offices. The historic walking trail around Lake Lucerne compiled by Central Florida Historian Steve Rajtar says this of the property: "This cluster of nine Bungalows was built in 1913-19 by C.A. Hovey around a common courtyard. Each is two stories tall and all share a common design approach with a stuccoed first story and a shingled upstairs. Visual attention is focused on the central axis and across Lake Lucerne, while the central courtyard is sheltered from the traffic of the surrounding roads."

On the Saturday morning I photographed the bungalow court, this squirrel was the only living creature in sight. Like so many other historic properties throughout Central Florida, there is space available for rent here.

The shores of Lake Lucerne was premier real estate in the young city of Orlando 100 years ago, and today it is still home to some of its best historic architecture. Today Lake Eola is known for its large population of swans; 100 years ago it was Lake Lucerne that supported a collection swans including the infamous "Billy" the Swan. Gore's History of Orlando states: "The swans have helped very much in advertising Orlando as scores of postcards have been sent out each year withe the picture of swans and cignets thereon." It's fun to imagine a time when Orlando's biggest attractions were birds...

Billy the Swan on display at the Orange County Regional History Center

Note the small island on this vintage image, site of the rookery that was subject of a previous post.

Postcard top, Orange County Regional History Center. All others, State Archives of Florida.


  1. If you like bungalows, you gotta come visit us here! Lincoln Park (our nabe) has more Craftsman architecture than you can shake a stone foundation at. No swans, but there is a feral neighborhood peacock and a large flock of wild parrots.

  2. One of these days I really do want to make it out to SoCal...

  3. Rick,
    I think they may warrant a cross-country driving tour with lots of good bungalows along the way.

  4. I was just going to comment about SoCal, but to this I will add Berkeley and Alameda. California is full of bungalows and bungalow courts. Berkeley, especially around the Gourmet Ghetto area, is full of them. I will recommend that you pay a visit to the natural perfumer Mandy Aftel, whose studio/home is in a marvelous example on a street with a riot of oversized wildflowers and a tangle of weeds. Spend an hour in her studio and you might get to smell a 100-year-old piece of ambergris, too.