|Border States: Journal of the Kentucky-Tennessee American Studies Association, No. 9 (1993)|
A small structure near the MTSU campus in Murfreesboro is a significant
artifact representing the revolt against Victorianism that took
place in the first part of the twentieth century. A log bungalow
built in 1918 by Clark Woodard, instructor of industrial arts
at Middle Tennessee State College, the house illustrates plans
and designs publicized by Gustav Stickley in his magazine The
Craftsman. A comparison of pages from the magazine with drawings
and photographs of the Woodard house reveals the care with which
the builder implemented the ideas of the editor. An imaginative
examination of these architectural details and interior designs
gives insight into the contemporary attempts to emphasize the
family and to return to a simpler life style that was close to
The bungalow was first introduced after the depression of 1893
and remained popular until the Great Depression of 1930. Meeting
the demand of the booming urban population for moderately-priced
housing, the bungalow represented both the American dream of home
ownership and the return to nature movement. This meant, among
other things, the replacement of the excessive ornamentation of
the Victorian period with a much simpler design. 2
The back to nature movement of the early 1900s promoted outside
activities and a rugged life style, which Theodore Roosevelt popularized
while president. The first rustic houses were weekend retreats
or summer houses. They represented plain truth and hard reality.
The materials were to be representative of their natural state
without added decoration. Stucco, stones, and unpainted wood became
favorite exterior materials for these homes, because they were
inexpensive, functional, and required low maintenance. While the
natural materials made the house part of the surrounding landscape,
it was the design of the house that made a major impact on the
site. The one or one-and-a-half story structure with its straight
horizontal lines incorporated a low roof and extended eaves allowing
it to become part of the landscape. 3
The bungalow received praise from both scientists and sociologists
because it represented the new life style. The floor plan of the
new design was more condensed than that of the large Victorian
home. This required less space and allowed for closer family relations,
which had been de-emphasized during the Victorian period. The
heavy ornamentation and many large rooms of the Victorian house
were replaced by a human-scale atmosphere of clean, flat, and
straight lines representing the ideology of germ-free environment.
The new design allowed women for the first time to pursue outside
activities since this home required less time to clean. The advancement
of modern technology with standardized bathroom fixtures and electric
appliances also simplified housework. These new ideas and designs
were illustrated in magazines of the times. 4
Figure 1. Floor plan of Clark Woodard's home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
As an industrial arts instructor, Woodard probably subscribed
to The Craftsman during his employment at the college to
keep informed of the latest designs and techniques. This seems
likely because his home features designs, materials, and construction
techniques that had appeared in Gustav Stickley's magazine.
In 1914 Clark Woodard purchased a rural lot near the college,
and by 1918 he had ample information to design and construct a
naturalist bungalow. The Craftsman would send free house
plans to any interested party. Gustav Stickley encouraged readers
to modify designs to meet their special needs and site. A comparison
of Mr. Woodard's floor plan (fig. 1) with Stickley's 1909 Simple,
Straightforward floor plan (fig. 2) shows similarities in the
layout. By making some alterations to Stickley's floor plan it
becomes Woodard's floor plan (fig. 3). Stickley's floor plan is
a two-story Craftsman home, but by placing the two levels side
by side it creates Woodard's home. The Woodard floor plan continues
to encompass all the major features of the Stickley's design.
The rural atmosphere near the college provided the ideal location
for Clark Woodard's bungalow. 6
Figure 2. Gustav Stickley's simple, straightforward design from 1909, based on Gustav Stickley, Craftsman Homes: Architecture and Furnishings of American Arts and Crafts Movement (repr. New York: Dover, 1979), 55.
Figure 3. Gustav Stickley's 1909 design simply rearranged to show similarities between Stickley's design and Woodard's design.
Figure 4. Front view of Clark Woodard's log bungalow.
These elements are apparent in Woodard's home. The foundation
for the red cedar logs is not visible (fig. 5). The technique
of hiding the foundation from view requires knowledge and appreciation
of design that he probably received from reading The Craftsman.
Another special feature he included in his home was the use of
chestnut for the interior woodwork in the dining, living, and
inglenook complex and for the front bedroom. Since chestnut was
no longer available in Middle Tennessee, he must have ordered
it from the local lumber yard at great expense. 8
Gustav Stickley based some of his ideas on the India bungalow.
In this design every room opened on a verandah which had clerestory
windows under the eaves for cross-ventilation. Stickley sometimes
used clerestory windows under the eaves, which prevented harsh
light coming through the windows. Even though the windows in the
Woodard house are not clerestory, there are several higher-than-normal
The floor plan of an India bungalow sets the four corner rooms
out from the main house, creating recessed porches. Gustav Stickley
adapted the recessed porch idea in a 1908 summer cabin floor plan,
but referred to it as an open-air dining room. Porches were important
features in the bungalow because they connected nature to the
interior of the home. The large porch was designed to be used
as another room, either as a second living room or a sleeping
room during pleasant weather. These areas were usually furnished
with wicker furniture because of its light and airy quality. Clark
Woodard's home has a rear recessed porch, which is accessible
from the kitchen, a rear room, and the outside (fig. 1). The large
front porch and adjoining small patio have ample space to accommodate
wicker furniture during pleasant weather, bringing nature into
the family's living space. 10
The bungalow's condensed floor plan made use of all available
space. The living room replaced the front and rear parlors, hall,
and library characteristic of the Victorian house. The living
room was an open area that contained a private area called the
inglenook. Here was the fireplace, the heart of the house, creating
an image of closeness among family members. The living room opened
into the dining room, which also served as a multipurpose room.
It was connected to the kitchen by a swinging door that allowed
easy access to the dining room while keeping out food odors. The
kitchen had built-in cabinets and modern appliances, reducing
the amount of required space. Daily meals were moved from the
dining room to breakfast nook in the kitchen, further reducing
the amount of housework. In the bungalow there were two or three
bedrooms, which were located upstairs or opposite the dining room
and kitchen. Built-in closets became a common feature that maximized
available space and cut down on required furniture. The bedrooms
were accessible to the bath that was located in the back of the
house. The bath had also become more condensed and more functional
than in older homes. 11
Clark Woodard used these ideas in designing his floor plan. He
located the open living room at the front of the house with an
inglenook, which is centrally located, accommodating the hearth
of the family, the fireplace. The dining room is directly behind
the living room. The complex of living, dining room, and inglenook
is separated by a five-to six-foot wall. The area creates a sense
of openness but still retains a sense of privacy in the different
areas. The kitchen, connected to the dining room by a swinging
door, is ample size even with its built-in cabinets. A breakfast
nook is situated in an out-of -the-way location so as not to interfere
with kitchen duties. A pantry and rear porch are accessible from
the kitchen. The three bedrooms are situated on the south side
of the house with the rear bedroom having a half bath. All bedrooms
have built-in closets, most of which are lined with red cedar.
A small hall from the inglenook leads to a full bath located in
the rear of the house. (The floor plan for Clark Woodard's house
is illustrated in figure 1).
Figure 6. A sketch of the living room wall in the Woodard home showing the paneling effect created by wood trim, and how this incorporated the window.
Stickley's ideas for the interior are illustrated, in the placement
of wood trim in the Woodard home. A panel effect, which incorporates
the window and doors into the design (fig. 6) is created in the
main living area. These panels are of rough textured plaster.
The wood beams and picture molding in these rooms tie the area
together (fig. 7). The space between the picture molding and the
ceiling is the area where Stickley permitted wallpaper or painted
design. The built-in cabinets in the Woodard home consist of cedar-lined
closets and a mantel with two compartments for storage. The front
bedroom is very different from the other bedrooms. It is the only
one that has a fireplace, a closet that is not cedar-lined, a
saloon type door, and chestnut woodwork. The location of the room
at the front of the house, in addition to the other features,
leads one to believe that it served as an office or a multi-purpose
room. The wood trim in the living room, a dining room, inglenook,
and front bedroom is chestnut, which has a lustrous finish, probably
obtained by the ammonia process. The type of wood, its finish,
and its placement reflect knowledge that Woodard probably gained
from The Craftsman.
Gustav Stickley was interested in the total design of the house,
which included everything from the floor plan to the design of
the tablecloth. Since he wanted complete harmony, he also recommended
the style of light fixtures for the house. Clark Woodard carried
out this idea as well with his light fixtures for his house (fig.
8 and 9). 13
Figure 8. A craftsman style light fixture on the left side of the front door; notice the use of wood and art glass in the construction.
Figure 9. A craftsman style light fixture on the front of the house; notice the use of wood and art glass in its construction.
All photographs and drawings are by the author.
1. Rutherford County (TN), Deed Book, Book 60, 205; Real Estate
2. Lee and Virginia McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses
(New York: Knopf, 1990), 453-4; Clifford Edward Clark, Jr., The
American Family Home, 1800-1960 (Chapel Hill and London, U
of North Carolina P, 1986), 192, 131-2.
3. Clark 151, 173, 180.
4. Clark 156-57, 179, 182-83.
5. Mary Ann Smith, Gustav Stickley, The Craftsman (Syracuse,
NY: Syracuse UP, 1983), 77, 83; Dell Upton and John Michael Vlach,
ed. Common Places: Readings in American Vernacular Architecture
(Athens, GA and London: U of Georgia P, 1986), 81, 88.
6. Gustav Stickley, Craftsman Homes: Architecture and Furnishings
of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, (Reprint, New York:
Dover, 1979), 55; Smith, 96.
7. Stickley 74; Smith 111, 113-14, 116.
8. Mr. Gary Davis, Sr., interview by author, Murfreesboro, Tennessee,
10 April 1992.
9. Upton and Vlach 81.
10. Clark 173, 183; Stickley 85.
11. Clark 163, 167-69, 190; Stickley 129, 131, 135-36; Upton and
12. Clark 176; Stickley 40, 145-47, 185-89; Smith 77, 82, 127.
13. Stickley 162-64.
14. Rutherford County (TN), Will Book, Book 4, 116.
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