You’ve probably seen the signs around the neighborhood, but maybe you’ve wondered what they mean. Within the boundaries of our neighborhood association exists an area designated as a Historic District. The South Wayne Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The National Register is the nation’s official list of cultural resources considered worthy of preservation. Listing on the National Register gives properties a degree of protection from any potentially adverse effects of state and federally funded projects, and may also provide financial incentives for appropriate rehabilitation.
Most of this area was once part of an 80-acre tract operated as a county farm between 1848 and 1853. When the farm was divided and sold, a few houses were built but the area remained rural in character. One of the best known of the country estates built in the area was that of Judge Lindley M. Ninde, who in the 1860s built an impressive house known as “Wildwood” on Fairfield where the present Lutheran Park is located.
The establishment of the Packard Piano and Organ Company on Fairfield Avenue in 1872 led to increased development and population growth in the area. Eventually a movement was formed to incorporate South Wayne as a town. After a lengthy court battle with the City of Fort Wayne, which wanted to annex the area, the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of South Wayne and the town was incorporated in 1889.
Fort Wayne eventually succeeded in annexing South Wayne in 1894, bringing with it street car lines, utilities, and a new school. The annexation, coupled with growing industrial development, led to increased residential interest. In the South Wayne district, 80% of the homes were constructed between about 1910 and 1920, and another 15% constructed between 1920 and 1930. Craftsman, Colonial Revival, and American Foursquare are the dominant architectural styles. Consistency among the houses in terms of style, scale, materials, setback, and other character defining features still creates a pleasing rhythm along the district’s streets. Historical Information compiled by Laura Thayer, Historic Preservation Consultant for the City of Fort Wayne, 1992