As part of the Community Action Development Plan (CADP) for the Neighborhood created in 2007 and revised in 2017, the history of the area was included. The highlights from this history follow.
As the city of Fort Wayne developed in the mid-nineteenth century the Northside Neighborhood area was at the edge of the city, but removed from easy access from the early plats of Fort Wayne by the Maumee and St. Joseph Rivers. Major highway routes to and from the city passed through the area, and the area was likely used to support the city with pastures, small farms, gardens, fields, and woodlots. By the late nineteenth century the area contained rural estates, and some scattered farms and individual houses with an early suburban character.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, urban housing developed rapidly in this area. In this era, it began to attain the visual character of dense urban residential development that it retains today. Other residential areas were filled by smaller housing developments that bridged the gaps between the larger developments. Large tracts of the northern section, mostly north of East State Boulevard, were developed more slowly and independently as large rural outlets that were later platted or subdivided. The development pattern in the northern section of the neighborhood led to greater diversity in the size of lots, and in great diversity in the ages, sizes, character, and quality of housing in these areas. The Great Depression slowed residential construction in the neighborhood, but contributed to an increase in conversions of single-family housing to apartment units, primarily in the Lakeside area. By the 1940s, however, the neighborhood had recovered, and areas such as Crescent Avenue, Parnell Avenue, E. State Blvd., and N. Anthony Blvd. were largely developed. Housing continued to be built in the northern section of the neighborhood into the 1960s.
The continuous growth of Fort Wayne’s urban and suburban areas had little effect on the Northside Neighbor-hood as it matured in the 1960s and 1970s. Although it was fully developed, it was adjacent to thriving commercial areas, educational centers, and community centers. Never-ending suburban development and the challenges to Fort Wayne’s downtown area have created the need for the neighborhood to monitor changes in the area.
The Northside Neighborhood Association has been instrumental in promoting community, stability, and quality development in the neighborhood since 1975.
The Northside Neighborhood Association (NNA) was formed following the success of residents of the area in blocking a proposed Regional Correction Center on the site of the old State School property on East State Boulevard. Use of the nearly 60 acre campus was in question following the relocation of the State Developmental Center. Other state uses were proposed for the site, beginning in 1970. One of the potential uses proposed was a jail or state corrections institution.
Residents in the area saw an opportunity to express their opinion and promote the transformation of this large campus into a community park. The site was dominated by a large, historic, four-story brick administration and hospital building. There were also other two-story brick buildings scattered about the property. In addition the site contained a large power plant and a gymnasium. There was a ball field east of the center of the complex, and a tall iron fence encircled the entire block.
In the early 1970s, a lengthy battle ensued over the use of the property. The eventual winner was the residential community surrounding the complex. North Side Park was acquired by the Park Department in 1978. To develop the park, most of the buildings were demolished. Amenities were developed, such as ball fields, a swimming pool (dedicated in 1983), tennis courts, and a community meeting building was created by rehabilitating one of the historic brick buildings as the Psi Ote Barn.
The catalyst for creation of the Northside Neighborhood Association was an organization called the “Corrections Center Opponents.” The organization formed with the help of city councilman Don Schmidt on November 30, 1974. The twelve members of the “Corrections Center Opponents” were: Katherine Hoffman, Diane Duly, Richard Regedanz (treasurer), Emily Jantz, David Schmidt, Robert Pio, Fane Hein, Robert Rommel, Jack Carter, Carol Lantz, Adolph Pence, and Robert Wire.
The group had immediate success in blocking the Regional Corrections Center; a newspaper article on January 11, 1975 stated “Public’s Wish Spurred Site Veto, Governor Says.” After successfully blocking use of the State Street property as a corrections center, the “Correction Center Opponents” group organized a meeting on February 17, 1975. This meeting was held at Riverside School for the purpose of forming a neighborhood association. The association was formed and it has since been known as the Northside Neighborhood Association.