Thoroughly Modern Mission 

Circa-1925 bungalow in Buntyn.

The East Buntyn Historic District, near the University of Memphis, was once part of a cotton plantation, a quarter of which awarded to Geraldus Buntyn for his service in the War of 1812. After Buntyn's death, developers registered the Buntyn Subdivision with the county tax office in 1868. Several new streets were installed in the early 1900s, but major construction didn't begin until the 1920s, after city utilities had been extended to the subdivision. Many prospective residents were attracted to the area by its proximity to the Memphis Country Club, which had purchased Buntyn's Greek Revival house and rebuilt on the same site after the house burned in 1910. The Normal School, the state teachers' college, was also in the neighborhood.

This house, built around 1925, started out as a yellow-brick, Mission-style, "airplane" bungalow facing Reese Street and set far back. In the 1950s, the large lot was subdivided and a new house was built in the original front yard. The existing house was substantially altered inside and out, no doubt in an effort to "modernize" it and create a more open plan in keeping with popular architectural trends of the time. The main axis of the house shifted 90 degrees: The entrance moved from the narrow Reese Street façade to the long side on Southern Avenue. Shifting the entrance allowed major interior changes. The house's typical bungalow plan -- entry/living room, dining room, and kitchen running from front to back along one side with a central hall, bedrooms, and bath on the other side -- was transformed into a ranch-house plan, the dominant residential style of the 1950s and '60s, with its living and dining rooms and kitchen in the front and bedrooms and bath in the back. The original living room became a pine-paneled den with a big brick fireplace; a wall was removed between the original dining and breakfast rooms to create a combined living and dining room. The front and side porches were paved with yellow bricks removed from the first-floor parapet wall. At some time, the house was painted white, giving it a capital-M Modern (bordering on International style) appearance.

The second-floor "airplane" (given that name presumably because it has a panoramic view) has two bedrooms, each with high windows on three sides and a deep closet, which could be reconfigured to make room for at least a half bath.

The kitchen is big, with varnished wood cabinets, a pantry, room for a table and chairs, and the same hardwood floors as in the adjacent rooms. The kitchen could be easily updated a bit by recessing the refrigerator in the pantry, painting the cabinets, and replacing the table and chairs with a big work island with seating along one side.

Calling the ground floor of this house a basement doesn't do it justice. It's a full, walk-out basement, the same size as the first floor, and has several rooms, a master-quality bath and dressing room, and a laundry in a vast walk-in closet. Installing French doors to connect the area with the rear garden would make this an especially appealing part of the house.

Whether you're looking for a move-in ready '50s-chic house or feel like restoring some of the Craftsman bungalow elements, this house offers lots of livability and myriad arrangements and uses for its many capacious rooms.

3342 Southern Avenue

1,900 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2 baths; $114,000

Heritage Homes Co., Jennifer Parker, agent, 755-2000, 452-8061

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