The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 1:00 am

Historic designation proposals approved

Panel backs bid of district, home for National Register

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

Two applications for entry onto the National Register of Historic Places were approved Monday by Fort Wayne's Historic Preservation Commission. 

The applications cover the Beechwood Historic District and the Becker House, a single-family home on West Williams Street. The Beechwood Historic District is roughly bounded by Fairfield and South Wayne avenues to the east and west, and Pierce and Beechwood drives to the north and south.

Both proposals were approved in separate 4-0 votes.

The applications for the Beechwood Historic District and the Becker House will now go to the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board before being sent on to the National Park Service. 

Inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places differs from local historic designations. Property owners who reside in a local historic district must have any plans to make noticeable exterior property changes – those that could be seen from a public street or right of way – reviewed by the city's Historic Preservation Commission before work begins. 

The National Register doesn't impose additional reviews to the local ones. However, those properties are eligible for Historic Preservation Fund grants or rehabilitation tax credits. Inclusion on the register also ensures that federally funded projects in the area are reviewed to insure there are no negative impacts on the district's historic nature.

The Beechwood Historic District meets two of four possible criteria for inclusion on the National Register, Historic Preservation planner Creager Smith said. 

The district was originally platted in 1914 and features “curving, tree-lined streets – Beechwood Drive and Beechwood Circle,” Smith said. The area also includes a small park and historic streetlights. According to the staff report, building styles include 19th-century Italianate and Queen Anne architecture, as well as some examples of Colonial and Classical revival. Also featured are many examples of Craftsman- and Prairie-style homes, the staff report states.

The Becker House, 425 W. Williams St., was built in 1886. According to a staff report, the home has characteristic features of the Queen Anne style and includes a large red brick garage, constructed in about 1900, to the rear of the property.

The property's original owner was August E.C. Becker, a German immigrant who arrived in Fort Wayne at 18 years old, Smith said. Becker owned a grocery and bakery at Butler and Calhoun streets until he retired in 1914. Becker died in 1939 at 84. According to the staff report, he was highly respected member in the community. 

The house is eligible for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places because it is an “outstanding example of Queen Anne architecture, and more specifically the Free Classic subtype of the style,” a staff report states.

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