History of Austin Real Estate: Hyde Park Architecture and the Boom of Bungalows

Many of Hyde Park’s first houses were “stylistically pretentious examples of late 19th-century domestic architecture” that fit with developer Monroe Martin Shipe’s vision. Shipe pushed to have large, beautiful homes built along the primary roads, such as 40th Street, and where streetcars went.

Those large homes created an impression of prosperity.

While more ornate designs were common in the late 19th century, things began shifting as the middle-class grew larger and more powerful. Around 1900, economic uncertainty forced Shipe to start marketing Hyde Park as a place for the middle class instead of the elite. The National Register of Historic Places document notes some newspaper advertisements from that time.

A 1904 ad said: “Now is your opportunity. Our prices and terms should appeal to every man or woman of modest income. Price of lots range from $50 to $150 each; 10 cents a day, or $3 per month will pay for a lot. Think of it. The price of two beers each day will pay for a lot. Invest a part of your earnings each month. It will help you to save your money. This is good advice for the average man or woman who works for wages.”

Along with that shift, American culture began to shun Victorian-era homes and embrace the more progressive, modern home styles, such as the bungalow.

“New ideas and philosophies regarding residential architectural forms reached wide audiences via the popular press,” the National Register of Historic Places document says. “The widespread availability of pattern books and mail-order house plans during the late 19th century and the advent of mass-circulated magazines such as The Ladies Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens in the early 20th century helped disseminate these ideas. Indeed, complete houses and component parts were available by mail after the turn of the century from concerns like the Alladin Homes and Sears, Roebuck and Co. With distribution facilitated by the vast rail network, new house forms including the bungalow achieved widespread popularity through such sources.”

Hyde Park became fully built and populated in the 1920s and 1930s. And during that time, bungalows became popular across the country as suburban developments boomed.

The bungalows had open floor plans and a more airy feel. Large porches affixed to most bungalows were also attractive during Texas summers. Many also had garages or outbuildings, as vehicles were getting more and more common.

“Bungalows are the most common house type, followed by examples of the stylistic influences of the Queen Anne and Tudor Revival styles,” the National Register of Historic Places document says. “Although examples of other stylistic and vernacular influences occur infrequently in the neighborhood, they nevertheless contribute to the richness of historic fabric that characterizes the area.”