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Sherman Park Addition Historic District

Coeur dAlene City, Kootenai County, ID

Ridge Avenue Historic District

Photo: Homes in the Sherman Park Addition Historic District, Coeur d'Alene. The District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Photographed by User: Jon Roanhaus (own work), 2015, [cc-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed March, 2023.

The Fort Grounds neighborhood [†] (Sherman Park Addition Historic District) is locally significant for its concentration of intact homes dating from the early twentieth century when Coeur d'Alene was experiencing tremendous growth. The styles represented in the district reflect what was popular during this period not only in Coeur d'Alene but also in other cities in northern Idaho and across the nation. The district is also significant as an early planned subdivision in Coeur d'Alene. The design of the neighborhood featuring long curving streets leading to the lake, uniform housing setback, and restrictive covenants made the Sherman Park Addition probably the first area in the city to regulate the exclusive quality of the neighborhood.

The Sherman Park Addition was platted into ninety-five lots in October 1905. Construction on the initial houses started soon after that and continued at a steady pace. The November 1908 Sanborn firemap showed forty-six homes already finished in the neighborhood, although some of these were very small starter houses which were later replaced with more substantial homes. By November 1921, the date of the next Sanborn firemap, only three vacant lots remained. Today, seventy-two of the eighty buildings date from the period of significance bracketed by the start of construction and the apparent end of construction. The district reflects the period of significance in the unchanged layout of the streets and the concentration of period architecture. Later changes are seen in alterations to houses, including siding, windows, porches, and roofs.

The Fort Grounds neighborhood is a distinct neighborhood within Coeur d'Alene. It is set off by the physical boundaries of the park on the east, the lake on the south, the college campus on the west, and Garden Avenue on the north. The residential area across Garden Avenue dates from the same time period as the Fort Grounds neighborhood, but it lacks the architectural integrity and cohesion of the district.

The district is further distinguished by its street patterns. It is the only area in historic Coeur d'Alene to deviate radically from the regular grid pattern. Lakeshore Drive curves along the south following the edge of the lake, while Park Drive, Hubbard, and Garden form regular square boundaries for the district on the other three sides. Within the neighborhood, however, Military and Forest traverse the north-south length, curving gently to form irregular lot shapes and add rural charm to the neighborhood. The long blocks are broken by only two cross streets: Woodland Drive, which connects Hubbard and Military, and Sherman Court, a narrow alley running between Forest and Park.

The architecture of the district's houses reflects what was popular in the city during the period of significance, from 1905-1921. Within the various styles, the gable front design predominates. Alan Gowans calls these "homestead temple-houses," a form with broad appeal and simple construction. House catalogs promoted this building form extensively during the early twentieth century, and local builders probably looked to these sources for ideas and plans.

Use of similar building materials further unifies the district. Seventy-four of the eighty houses originally had wooden weatherboard siding, and of these, fifty-one retain the original materials. This extensive use of wood is typical of towns and cities throughout the Inland Northwest where local lumber mills manufactured and sold building supplies.

The Fort Grounds neighborhood conveys a sense of both historic and architectural cohesion through its landscape, setting, building design, and integrity. The setting and landscape remain virtually unaltered. The narrow streets now accommodate only one-way traffic, and landscape trees and shrubs have matured. House designs, typical of the period of significance, remain unchanged or only slightly altered on the majority of the homes. Noncontributing buildings are generally similar in scale and setback to other structures in the district, and thus they do not cause any jarring intrusions.

House styles found in the Fort Grounds neighborhood are typical of designs from other neighborhoods in Coeur d'Alene and towns throughout northern Idaho and nearby eastern Washington. Variations on the bungalow style were very popular during the first two decades of the twentieth century when most of this region was undergoing rapid development. This growth coincided with the heyday of the bungalow nationwide. Other homes in the neighborhood reflect more traditional styles, especially the Colonial Revival. Dutch Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival are also represented in the neighborhood, along with a number of homes which can be described only as vernacular. In this respect, the Fort Grounds neighborhood is representative of regional residential housing during the period of significance.

The street layout, with long, irregular blocks, and the restrictive covenants make this neighborhood unusual for its time. Other subdivisions in Coeur d'Alene from the same time period maintained the rigid grid pattern for streets, the same design followed by most other towns in the region. Research did not turn up any other subdivision in Coeur d'Alene from the early 1900s with deeds containing restrictive covenants, although these were relatively common in nearby Spokane. Since Coeur d'Alene was the largest town in northern Idaho, it is assumed that the smaller towns did not attempt to regulate development with such restrictions until a much later date.

Residents in the Fort Grounds neighborhood take great pride in their homes and streets, maintaining their houses and yards well. Many homes have been painted in the last few years, but no major restoration projects are now underway.

The Fort Sherman chapel is the only building lying outside the period of significance which deserves special consideration. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 as part of the Fort Sherman Historic District. The chapel, maintained by the local historical society, is used for Sunday worship and numerous weddings. The Kootenai County Certified Local Government (CLG) recently undertook a major preservation project on the chapel. The CLG has replaced the roof and now is planning to replace rotting foundation supports.

The abandoned Fort Sherman Military Reservation offered Coeur d'Alene great potential for expansion with its more than eight hundred acres of land along the lake shore and western edge of town. Appraisers evaluated all the land and fifty-two structures during the summer of 1904. By the following spring, the approaching auction of the reserve generated great excitement throughout the region.

The sale took place in early June 1905. All of the land had been divided into lots ranging from one to twenty acres in size. The large houses of officers' row sold first, bringing in prices between $210 and $901. Most of the lots sold to individuals and developers, although prevailing opinion seemed to favor the sale of prime lakefront to industries which would benefit the city. Stack-Gibbs purchased forty acres of land on the lakefront for a large lumber mill. F. A. Blackwell and other mills bought lots along the river for industrial purposes.

Two Spokane men bought two of the three large lots which became the Sherman Park Addition to Coeur d'Alene. Thomas T. Kerl paid $3,650 for Lot 43, encompassing 11.8 acres, while David T. Ham spent $4,050 for adjoining Lot 45 which included the post commander's spacious house and 9.34 acres.

Rev. Thomas J. Purcell of the Catholic church in Coeur d'Alene bought the smaller Lot 44 containing just 2.53 acres and the post hospital. He had the building moved to Ninth and Indiana where it served as a Catholic boarding school for many years. After removing the building, Purcell sold the land to the newly formed Sherman Park Company in December 1905 for $2,000.

Kerl and Ham, through their Sherman Park Company, subdivided the three large lots into ninety-five smaller ones. Two of these (14 and 72) later went to the city for street and park use. Some owners purchased more than one lot before building, either combining two smaller lots or dividing an adjoining lot with a neighbor. Only one lot (10) was subdivided during the initial building stages, but four others (18, 26 and 27 combined, and 76) contained front and rear houses. Three oversized lots (32, 51, and 52) comprised one entire block containing the commander's home. Kerl purchased these for $6,000 in 1905, retaining the building for his home. Kerl's widow sold the property in 1945 to Charles A. Finch, Jr., and he platted the block into twelve lots in 1950. Because of its late development, this block is left out of the nomination.

The Sherman Park Company altered the alignment of the existing north-south road, now known as Hubbard, and added three other parallel roads (Forest, Military, and Park Drives) as well as connecting streets and alleys. The main access road came in from the north; an additional entrance in the southeast corner was regulated with a locked gate to keep out heavy traffic. Initial plans called for retaining a wide strip of land along the lakeshore to form a park area for residents, beautifying it with shrubs, rustic gates, and benches. Plans called for two rows of trees to be planted along the western edge to hide the mill. The local newspaper quickly predicted that this would become a fashionable suburban residential district.

Deeds to lots in the Sherman Park Addition contained twelve covenants, making this probably the first development in northern Idaho to contain such provisions. The covenants restricted buildings to residences and associated structures; specified setbacks from streets and rights-of-way; limited fence and wall heights to five feet or less; kept teams and vehicles off sidewalks; eliminated regular heavy traffic; and specified proportional payments for subdivision improvements. Covenant 4 listed minimal house values for each lot, starting with $1,200 for lots in the northwest block, $1,500 for most central lots, $2,000 for lots facing the city park, and $5,000 for larger lots facing Lake Coeur d'Alene.

The location of Sherman Park Addition near both Lake Coeur d'Alene and the electric railroad line to Spokane made the neighborhood appeal to some Spokane families who wanted a summer home near the lake. A number of families camped in tents on their lots during the summer of 1907, and others built small, temporary houses to be replaced at a later date.

The neighborhood built up rapidly, as did other parts of the old military reservation. After just one year of development, the Coeur d'Alene school board purchased a two-acre tract of land on the fort grounds in August 1906 and constructed a four-room frame school to accommodate the great influx of new families to the area. By late November 1908, the Sherman Park Addition boasted forty-six homes on its ninety-five lots.

Developers Kerl and Ham initially retained a major voice in neighborhood plans, but residents soon moved to take control. At a meeting on 31 May 1907, owners expressed anger that the developers had allowed a boathouse to be built at the end of Park Drive. When they found that other buildings might be constructed along the beach, they discussed steps to secure an agreement on this strip. This land never became a community beach, however, transferring instead in 1910 to property owners across Lakeshore Drive. Their deeds restricted any building which might "obstruct the view or mar the beauty of the lake shore or the water1' but went on to allow construction of boathouses and docks.

At the same meeting, owners elected a committee to investigate transferring control of the streets and alleys of the Sherman Park Addition from the developers to the residents. They also appointed another committee to work out improved access to the neighborhood from Sherman Avenue. The Sherman Park Corporation deeded Park Drive to the city in 1909 and may have turned over the other streets at the same time.

The neighborhood continued to grow rapidly during the next decade. By late 1921, only three vacant lots were left in the Sherman Park Addition. These stayed empty until the owners built during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The area remained stable over the years but has seen a resurgence of popularity in the last ten years. The neighborhood now has an active association to oversee general neighborhood improvements.

Adapted from: Nancy F. Remk, Sherman Park Addition, nomination documnet, 1991, National Register of Historic Places, Washibgton, D.C.

Street Names
Forest Drive • Garden Avenue • Hubbard Avenue • Lakeshore Drive • Military Drive • Park Drive • Sherman Court • Woodland Drive