There is a lot of history in the homes tucked among the stately trees along East and West drives just northeast of downtown. There is even more history in the ground beneath them.
The land served as a home for harness racing around 1900 and later as the city's first fairgrounds. Famous local aviator Art Smith lifted off, briefly, from the site while attempting his first flight. The area later became part of one of Fort Wayne's first suburbs designed for homeowners with automobiles.
You can tour the homes and learn some of the history Friday and Saturday during the Northside Neighborhood Association's Home and Garden Walk. The event celebrates the 100th anniversary of the land's development as the current housing addition
You can visit 11 tour stops while strolling a total of about three blocks. The tour, which is open 6-9 p.m. Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday, includes five homes and their gardens, five gardens and one home only. Artists will sell work Saturday during an art fair.
Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 the days of the tour.
Most of the homes on the two streets were built from about 1930 to 1950, said Linda Kirby, Northside Neighborhood Association board secretary. Her Tudor-style home and gardens at 2601 East Drive will be among those on the tour.
Kirby will have lived in the home for 16 years as of this September, she said. They moved into it in partly because it is located within several minutes of downtown. Also, “the house had a lot of charm and character, as well as the other homes in the neighborhood,” she said.
Her house was built by general contractor Frank A. Kintz as his “retirement” home, though he previously lived only about a block and a half away, Kirby said. Along with nice woodwork, it also has some special features, including a small hat room off the front doorway where a lady could put on and adjust her hat just before heading out the door.
Kirby also loves the neighborhood, including being able to walk the few blocks to Lakeside Park.
“We have nice people here, people who are interested in the neighborhood, interested in the city and interested in downtown,” she said.