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Foster Park neighborhood seeks listing on National Register of Historic Places

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What: The City of Fort Wayne's Historic Preservation Commission will accept public comment on the Foster Park neighborhood's application for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
When: 5:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Omni Room on the garden level of the Citizens Square building, 200 E. Berry St.
Information: 427-1127

A public hearing on the application will take place Monday evening at Citizens Square

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 12:01 am

When Susan and Evert Mol inherited the family home from his late mother in 2001, they decided to move in.

“It was a really good decision for us,” Susan Mol said of the home on West Foster Parkway in the historic Foster Park addition just north of Foster Park. “We love living in that neighborhood.”

The Mols and other Foster Park residents will take a step toward preserving and honoring the neighborhood they love by applying to have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A public hearing on the application for nomination to the National Register will take place at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Omni Room on the garden level of the Citizens Square building at Berry and Clinton streets.

At the meeting, the city's Historic Preservation Commission will ask for public comment on the nomination request, said Creager Smith, a city historic preservation planner. The commission will consider the comments and then likely will vote on whether to send the nomination application to the Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

If the state's Historic Preservation Review Board approves, the application will be forwarded to the National Park Service for a final decision, which likely won't come until October or November, Smith said.

The Foster Park neighborhood dates to the early 1920s, Smith said. It was built in stages, however, with the last three homes not constructed until the 1970s.

In the 1920s, the subdivision's location at the end of the Broadway street car line and right across the street from the entrance to Foster Park made it attractive to people with the ability and desire to build nicer homes and in a variety of architectural styles, Smith said.

Home styles range from the older Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, American Foursquare and Craftsman to more modern styles including Ranch, International and Minimal Traditional, city historic preservation staff said in their review of the application.

When the Great Depression hit, however, building virtually stopped, Smith said. It resumed in the late 1930s, stopped again during World War II and started up again afterward.

The neighborhood meets two criteria for being listed on the National Register, the staff review of the application says:

•It is associated with the planning and development of early suburban subdivisions in Fort Wayne in accordance with the Fort Wayne parks and boulevard system. That plan located parks around the city, which were linked by wide boulevards, such as Rudisill, Anthony and State boulevards.

•Homes in the neighborhood also exemplify the distinctive characteristics of homes built between 1926 and 1963, the staff review said.

Residents of the Foster Park neighborhood had talked for a number of years about applying for nomination to the National Register, said Susan Mol, a past president of the 137-home subdivision.

In September 2011, she contacted Don Orban, the city's other historic preservation planner, to seek help in creating the nomination application. Orban secured a grant to help pay for the research needed to file the application.

Listing on the National Register would not prevent current residents from remodeling, selling or disposing of their homes, Mol said. It would provide some protection, however, because any project receiving federal funding must do a review to prevent adverse impact on National Register properties.

All of the neighborhoods around Foster Park already have received National Register listing, so it made sense for Foster Park neighborhood residents to seek similar status, Mol said.

National Register listing also would be “kind of a feather in the cap,” said Mol, who touted the neighborhood's many assets.

“The people who move into historic neighborhoods really want to live in homes with character,” she said.

Other attractive features include a sidewalk, front porches, a tree canopy and being across the street from Foster Park.

“There is just a lot going for older neighborhoods that help build a sense of community more so than other neighborhoods,” she said.