The Howard Park Historic District
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, the Howard Park Historic District owes its existence to the economic potential of the St. Joseph River. Initially part of the town of Lowell, South Bend annexed the area in 1886. Despite incorporation of this area remained politically autonomous with its own local leaders. Local autonomy only faded with improved transportation between both sides of the St. Joseph River, which began with the iron Jefferson Boulevard Bridge in 1882. Its 1906 concrete, four-span replacement stands today as a graceful example of the Melan arch, or low arch construction.
Industrial power spurred the area's development as the St. Joseph River falls towards downtown in what is known as the East Race. The East Race produced a variety of industrial complexes, which included the Singer Manufacturing Company, and the South Bend Lathe Company. The neighborhood, within walking distance, became the perfect locations for factory workers and their families. Oftentimes these homes, found along Wayne Street and St. Peter Boulevard, reflect the vernacular architectural trends available to the early twentieth-century working and middle classes, such as the American foursquare, bungalow, and gabled-ell.
In contrast, Jefferson Boulevard exhibits more high style architecture, many designed by local architects, such as Ennis Austin, W.W. Schneider, and Austin and Shambleau. The residences along Jefferson Boulevard included Free Classic, Colonial Revival, and Prairie styles.
Industrial jobs also brought a number of German immigrants to the area. The Zion Evangelical Church is an extant reminder of the past German influence. The church built in 1888, features high gabled roofs and arched stained glass windows, with a Gothic Revival feel.
The centerpiece and namesake of the district, Howard Park demonstrates the eventual shift form industry to recreation and residential life. Howard Park's first incarnation was as City Park in 1878. It became known as Howard Park by 1899, named after City Councilman Timothy Howard, who drafted the ordinance that created the park. Howard Park covers eleven and a half acres along the St. Joseph River. A notable feature is the circa 1906 Neoclassical retaining wall that runs the length of the park from Jefferson Boulevard to the Grand Trunk Railroad lines. In addition to rolling landscape traversed by concrete paths and studded with stately trees, the park contains a rustic 1940 Works Progress Administration Building.
The East Washington Street Historic District
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, the East Washington Street Historic District runs east and west between St. Louis Boulevard and Eddy Street along East Washington Street. The residential district’s streets are tree-lined and brick-paved.
The east bank housed a variety of industrial centers, which included the Singer Manufacturing Company. Neighborhoods in walking distance to the factories quickly sprouted to house all manner of blue and white-collar workers and their families.
Residential structures in this district hail from circa 1880 to 1930. Many of the houses are modest and reflect working class housing of the era. One of the earliest structures, the outstanding 1882 T-plan Mossey House, features decorative eaves and scrollwork. Other vernacular styles noted throughout the district include American foursquare and gable-front. High style architectural styles are represented in Free Classic, Tudor Revival, and Dutch Colonial Revival structures, among others.
The East Washington Street Historic District boasts the 1923 Neoclassical-style Sunnyside Presbyterian Church. Designers modeled the Sunnyside Presbyterian Church from the eighteenth-century First Covenant Church in Boston, MA. The most notable feature on the church is the copper-domed steeple.
The East Washington Street Historic District testifies to the lives of those involved in the development of South Bend’s industrial rise.