Home on West Berry Street, circa 1894, built by Alfred Johns. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Photographed by User:Craig Leonard, 1980, for the Historic District nomination document, accessed August, 2022.
The West End Historic District [†] was listed on the National Regisster of Historic Places in 1984. (The area is sometimes referred to as the "West Central Historic District.") It is an area rich in architectural and socio-historical associations. The area was the site of suburban growth as early as the canal era of the 1830's, and remained a popular middle and upper class neighborhood until well into the 20th century. As a result, its houses have been peopled by citizens engaged in virtually all professions during the entire period of the city's most pronounced period of growth and development, and the associations with the accomplishments of those people touch upon virtually every area of that growth.
At the same time, the continued desire on the part of West Central's citizens to have the most currently fashionable types and styles of dwellings available has created an architectural continuum which is the tangible artifact of their aspirations, their view of themselves, and the impact which they had upon the city. West Central is unique in that its popularity has only been slightly dimmed by suburbanization, and it has never ceased to attract middle and upper class residents. This has resulted in unusually great amounts of demolition, substantial renovation, and new construction over the past 150 years, and has produced a neighborhood unique among the historic neighborhoods of Fort Wayne.
To underscore just a few noteworthy examples of the significant relationships evident in West Central, West Berry and West Wayne Streets were home to many of the founding industrialists on which the city's fortunes were based, such as Noble Olds, owner of wagon and railroad car works; Ronald McDonald, whose Jenny Electric plant stood along the tracks which form the southern boundary of the district; and John Bass, owner of the iron foundry that stretched for many blocks along those same tracks, whose house is now the site of the Scottish Rite Auditorium. The workers for these enterprises lived close by, in the Southern part of the district, while the industries, themselves, lay within easy walking or streetcar distance, just south of our present-day district.
Joining their manufacturing neighbors were the downtown retailers and their employees, such as Myron Dessauer, who later occupied 924 West Wayne; George Dewald, whose Romanesque house still stands on West Wayne; and Horatio Ward whose crockery business was a Fort Wayne fixture for decades. Also present were prominent attorneys, such as Robert Bell and bankers, such as Henry Paul, whose Queen Anne residence was demolished to make way for Bertram Qoodhue's masterpiece, Trinity English Lutheran Church. Taken altogether, the district comprises a rare slice of 19th and early 20th century life. Here are the industrialists, the merchants, the powers that be, together with their employees, their churches, and their retail service area (Broadway). That such a district has survived into the late 20th century as a viable part of the city is testimony to the unique character of the area.
† Adapted from Karen Anderson, Executive Director, ARCH Inc., West End Historic District, nomination document, 1980/1984, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., accessed January, 2020.
Berry Street West • Broadway • College Street • Garden Street • Jackson Street • Jefferson Boulevard West • Jones Street • Lavina Street • Main Street West • Nelson Street • Rockhill Street • Swinney Court • Swinney Park Place • Thieme Drive • Union Street • Van Buren Street • Washington Boulevard West • Wayne Street West • Wilt Street