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Upper Bluff National Register

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Boundary Justification

Statement of Significance

The Upper Bluff Historic District is being nominated under the National Register criterion for its architecture because of the following factors: the district is illustrative of the wide variety of architectural styles available in residential housing between 1873-1940, located primarily within the Upper Bluff Historic District; much of the district developed as a distinct neighborhood within an expanding city; and because of the degree to which the structures are intact with a minimum of alterations (85% of all structures in the district are contributing).

The development of the Upper Bluff Historic District, which for the most part took place after 1873 and well into the 1930’s, mirrors the difficult times as well as the times of progress within the city, the state, and the nation. The neighborhood was a distinctively upper class subdivision where prominent members of the community built their family houses. A cross-section of original owners of houses in the Upper Bluff Historic District reveal the following occupations:

Owner, monument company
Owner, furniture store
Owner, hardware store
Owner, barbed wire manufacturing company
President, cemetery
Owner, jewelry store
Bank president
Real estate agent
President, dairy
Chief & supervisor, telephone company
Circuit court clerk

The oldest structure in the district is the Campbell House, circa 1850. The Campbell estate extended over the entire Upper Bluff Historic District and was an undeveloped, somewhat hilly wooded area. The Campbell barn, possibly the second oldest remaining structure in the district, was relocated a short distance to its present Nicholson Street address (310 Nicholson) directly north of the Campbell house. The barn was converted into the Harris House in 1916. The Brooks house at 505 Western Avenue is the second oldest house in the district which was designed and built as a single-family unit. After a seven-year hiatus, several houses were constructed in 1882-83 along Jersey Avenue and Nicholson Street.

Subsequent to 1883, construction did not occur for 2 years, when two houses were constructed in the district (421 Buell, now demolished, and 513 Western Avenue). The houses are particularly worthy of note because they were the prelude to a very active period of new construction in the district. The Fox house (circa 1885, now demolished), 421 Buell Avenue, was an imposing Italianate style mansion situated high on the hillside. This structure may have served as the focal point that drew attention to the Upper Bluff Historic District area, luring new residents to the area. Indeed, commitments were made for new residences in the area. Six houses were built in the district in 1888, five houses were constructed in 1889 and steady increases in single family construction continued throughout the 1890’s. Growth of the subdivision in the early 1900’s exceeded previous levels and reflected the overall pattern of growth in the city.

Outlying areas of the Upper Bluff Historic District (west half) were under construction during the early 1900’s. This period saw the introduction of multi-family apartment buildings to the district, indicative of a new housing trend in the region. Steady growth of the district continued in the 1920's until the effects of the Depression were felt and growth slowed in the 1930’s.