October 29, 2020

West Central asking to add more land to historic area | Local

A Fort Wayne neighborhood’s local historic designation could be expanded next week. 

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission will consider a proposal to expand the historic district designation for the city’s West Central neighborhood during its meeting Monday.

According to documents filed with the city’s historic preservation staff, the expansion would add an area that includes Wilt, Jackson, Lavina and Rockhill streets, as well as parcels on the west side of the 1300 block of Union Street. 

West Central first received its local historic designation in 1984, with an expansion in 1985, said Tyler Bowers, vice president of the Historic West Central Neighborhood Association.

A portion of West Central is also on the National Register of Historic Places, due to its “unique collection of homes that represent every architectural style present between 1850 and 1950,” a historic preservation staff report states.

“While the north side of the district served as home to many business owners and community leaders, the southern portion of the National Register district was home to working-class families,” the report states.

Other neighborhoods on the National Register include Williams-Woodland Park, Forest Park Boulevard, Oakdale, South Wayne, Southwood Park, Lafayette Place, Brookview-Irvington Park, Wildwood Park and more than 400 homes in the Lakeside area of the city’s Northside Neighborhood.

Expanding the historic district is part of the West Central Community Development Plan completed in 2004. The neighborhood association began the process to expand the designation in October 2019, led by Bowers.

Expanding the district, Bowers said, will help the neighborhood preserve more of its historic nature and aesthetic. If approved, the local historic district would include about 90% of the West Central area.

“Some of the houses are 150 years old and there’s so much charm and character to them,” he said. “It’s important to preserve that history.”

Bowers noted that many homes in the West Central area have been renovated in recent years, but luckily this has not caused the displacement of many longtime residents, many of whom have lived in the neighborhood for decades.

Local historic districts differ from inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places in several key ways. Properties within a local historic district are protected under local ordinance, which means any plans to make noticeable exterior property changes – those that could be seen from a public street or right-of-way – must be reviewed by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission before work begins. 

Homes on the National Register aren’t subject to that kind of review. 

The Historic Preservation Commission will meet via teleconference at 5:30 p.m. Monday to consider the application. 


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