A bungalow court is a style of multi-family housing which features several small houses arranged around a central garden

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerIn The Big Sleep, Marlowe follows someone down a street with three bungalow courts:

A bungalow court is a style of multi-family housing which features several small houses arranged around a central garden. The bungalow court was created in Pasadena, California in 1909 and was the predominant form of multi-family housing in Southern California from the 1910s through the 1930s. Homes in bungalow courts were generally small, low-rise houses in the spirit of bungalow design; however, the homes were designed in a variety of architectural styles, including Swiss chalet and Spanish Colonial Revival. Bungalow courts also integrated their courtyards with the homes, providing green space to homeowners.

Bungalow courts were generally marketed at people who wanted the amenities of a single-family home without its high cost. While each family in a bungalow court had its own house and garden, upkeep and land were shared among the residents.

Bungalow Court

Bungalow courts were especially popular in Pasadena, the city of their origin. The courts’ design prompted the Pasadena City Council to pass regulations requiring all multi-family housing in the city to be centered on a landscaped courtyard. In addition, of the 112 surviving bungalow courts in Pasadena, 43 have a historic designation such as a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The city is attempting to list the remaining eligible courts due to the design’s role in Pasadena history.

They’ve largely been zoned out of existence.


  1. Dan Kurt says:

    I’d never heard of a bungalow court until recently when I watched the 1948 film noir “He Walked by Night” with Richard Basehart & Scott Brady — as well as a host of character actors that were familiar to me from TV shows and movies seen by me as I was growing up in the 50′s. A bungalow court was a prominent set in the film which is avalable “free” on Amazon Prime Video.

  2. Isegoria says:

    One of the character actors in He Walked by Night was Jack Webb, who struck up a friendship with the police technical advisor, Detective Sergeant Marty Wynn, and was inspired to create the radio and later television program Dragnet.

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