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Rustic Style — 1900 to 1960

Log Houses, Cabins, and Artistic Homes

1912 Suburban Life - Rustic Pasadena Style Bungalow

Rustic Style Characteristics

Overview of the Rustic Style

Rustic style is more about materials and details than house type. The houses may be simple structures with just a single bedroom or multiple bunkrooms. They may have a full bathroom, but often the earliest homes had no indoor plumbing at all. They ranged in construction from single-story log cabins to two-story houses. Bungalowsand Arts & Crafts houses in particular, were well-adapted to the style (see image above).

As with most architectural styles, by the time the "Great Camp" style trickled down to the middle class at the turn of the 20th century, it had been embraced by wealthy Gilded Age homeowners for some time. Early environmentalists like Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Gifford Pinchot raised Americans' collective awareness in the beauty of the American wilderness. At the same time, rapid industrialization fostered a backlash that was manifested in the progressive Arts & Crafts movement. To escape the heat and frenetic pace of the cities, wealthy families were the first to establish grand summer homes in the bucolic lakes region of the Adirondacks after the Civil War. It wasn't long, however, before the growing middle class began to acquire their own summer camps.

Base1926 American Builder - Log Houses — Summer & Winterd in part on the early 20th century simplicity movement, rustic camp style was soon synonymous with "artistic" homes that eschewed the stern formality of the Victorian period. The world was changing. Science was discovering an invisible universe in petrie dishes, amazing inventions like the autmobile and airplane were now realities, and social progressives actively extolled the virtues of home life and healthy environments in the belief that they, combined with clean living and a strong moral backbone, were the best possible foundation for growing America's future.

1926 American Builder - Log Houses — Summer & Winter - PlanThe rustic style was also an expression of nostalgia for the simpler life of the Colonists who'd founded the United States with little more than a musket and an ax. The American wilderness deeply resonated in the collective psyche; capturing a personal part of it was clearly a reaction to the unknowns of the early industrial age.

The rustic style was incorporated into the National Park System building projects during the 1920s and 30s, and remains the predominant style of some of the most beautiful public structures built, including Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon and El Tovar Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park

In 1900, a rustic cabin or "camp" was desired primarily as a summer house to escape the dirt and heat of the cities. They were generally not intended for year around living and were often simple structures with an open floor plan, large covered porch, and ample ventilation. Many of the earliest bungalows are, in fact, summer homes.


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