Californian Bungalow

Earlier tonight I attended a presentation sponsored by History SA and the University of SA.  Associate Professor Chris Garnaut spoke with passion about suburban bungalows in South Australia from the 1920s.

I grew up in Myrtle Bank and it has a concentration of the bungalow design throughout this leafy suburb.  My parents built (had built) their home in 1926, the year they married, and lived there for 43 years (dad) and 52 years (mum). The term ‘bungalow’ comes from Bengal, and this building style was later influenced by British and American designers.  Our home was a Californian Bungalow with a strong South Australian influence on the design.


1935 Family Home Tallala Tce myrtle Bank

The builder for my parents’ home was Len Lambert and he lived with his wife (Mary) and daughter (Lois) on Fisher Street Fullarton.  Lois and my eldest sister, Marie, were lifelong friends.  Lois and her retired firefighter husband now live in Canberra.  Len drowned at Christies Beach, while saving Lois who had been caught in the undertow whilst swimming.

Chris’ presentation tonight brought back memories of the details in our home.  The sandstone blocks, the cobble stones in the featured brickwork fireplaces and the ornate ceilings.  There were also two large plaster domes set in the ceilings in the entrance hallway and the dining room.  My father claimed that they weighed more than half-a-ton each.  Above each window there were lead-light panels with abstract coloured designs set in glass.  There were three open fireplaces where we burnt mallee roots in the winter.  In the kitchen there was a Metters wood-fired stove that mum would keep burning, even in the middle of summer.  There was always a kettle full of hot water, ready for a cup of tea if an unexpected visitor called.

Our house had five rooms, a double sleep-out, the entrance hallway an inside laundry, bathroom and toilet.  Quite a modern home for the time.  My parents paid six-hundred and fifty pounds for the land and unfunished home.  Mum sold it in 1979 for $33,000.  Today the place would be worth in the vicinity of $950,000.

Posted November 12, 2014

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