Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wildwood Park

In 1914 Wildwood Builders purchased the Huffman Farm for $38,000. The farm was located south of present West Jefferson Boulevard between Rockhill Park and Ardmore Avenue This farm was to be used for more upscale clienteles. To plan this new community, Lee hired Arthur A. Shurleff nationally recognized a landscape architect from Boston This architect brought history with him as he planned Fort Wayne’s first designed community.[i]

The dream to built Wildwood Park, an exclusive community built for the affluent, failed. Houses built in this area were to sell for at least $6,500. Rules and regulations proposed to prevent undesirable establishments such as saloons, livestock, farms, or graveyards did not deter potential buyers’ fears. Because of the widespread problem of rural boot-legging and being too far out in the country, homeowners were reluctant to buy land. Because of these reasons Wildwood Park did not succeed during Wildwood Builder’s “glory days” By 1920, with the extension of streetcar lines and a paved highway (Jefferson Boulevard West), building conditions had improved.[ii]

Although several houses in this exclusive community were completed, the sole documented example of a Joel Ninde designed house stands at 3408 Washington Road in Wildwood Park .This Craftsman house located on some tree-lined winding road stands as a tribute to Joel’s vision. After 1920, Wildwood community began to grow through the effort of other builders. Currently, Wildwood Park is a thriving community. Daniel B. Ninde, brother-in-law of Joel Roberts Ninde resided in Wildwood Park at 3401 N. Washington Road in a Colonial Revival c/1928 house and Lee J. and Helen Ninde (second wife) resided at 1702 Hawthorn Road in a Colonial style house in Wildwood Park. This Craftsman house stands as a tribute to Joel’s vision. [iii]
[i] Harold Lopshire, Interview with Corinne Toth. 17, April 1998.[ii] Michael Hawfield, “Suburban Living was New Concept”, Fort Wayne News Sentinel, October, 1994, n.p. Historian Michael Hawfield (Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Museum) wrote the Cityscapes column for the News-Sentinel Summit magazine starting in May 1984. The columns are being republished in conjunction with the city’s 200th birthday October 22, 1994.[iii] Harold Lopshire, interview by Corinne Toth, April 17, 1998 and May 1, 1998.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Daniel Ninde's house at 3401 N. Washington Rd. was constructed in 1916-17. It was the first house to be completed, but the second house to be occupied. The McKay house, 3518 N. Washington Rd., was also built 1916-17 but was occupied first. Daniel Ninde's family was vacationing in New England when his house was finished, and by the time he moved in in September the McKays had already moved in.