East Wayne Street

The East Wayne Street Local Historic District was designated by ordinance in 1987. The neighborhood is a example of 1920s suburban development and reflects the prosperous years just prior to the Great Depression. In the 19th century, the area was farmland located immediately outside the town of Lowell (founded 1837) on land purchased in 1859 by David Greenwalt, an affluent farmer and real estate developer. 

In the 1860s, the St. Joseph County Farm and Asylum was located immediately to the east of the area. Jacob F. and John M. Studebaker, partners in the Studebaker Brothers company, bought Greenwalt`s farm and other lots during the 1870s. They eventually owned most of the surrounding area that became the Sunnymede development. 

The Studebaker's built country estates on their land. John`s property, called Sunnyside, was built due north and was demolished in the 1950s. The oldest existing house in the area was built for Ida Studebaker in 1895 at 1243 E. Jefferson. Other prominent industrialists also built residences here, including the John Birdsell house at 1249 E. Jefferson, and the more elaborate Beaux-Arts residence of Clement Studebaker Jr., constructed in 1909 at 107 South Greenlawn (originally 1701 E. Jefferson). Vincent Bendix, founder of the Bendix Corporation, later owned this residence.

Whitcomb and Keller`s Sunnymede Addition, which the East Wayne district is located within, was platted in 1925. The historic district encompasses the central portion of the addition originally extending from Eddy to 18th Street (now called Greenlawn) and from Jefferson to the Grand Trunk Railroad tracks. This was the first of six Sunnymede additions developed by Leslie Whitcomb and Fred Keller.

The subdivision was built to attract professionals to a part of the city that had already become an exclusive enclave for the more prosperous members of the community. The majority of residences were constructed between 1925 and 1930. It was accessible to both Mishawaka and South Bend via the Eddy Street streetcar line, making it a convenient area to live. 

Sunnymede was modeled after design principals suggested by landscape architects such as Frederick Law Olmstead in the late nineteenth century. These proponents of suburban design suggested the inclusion of curvilinear, tree-lined streets, park areas, and open spaces as important elements of planned neighborhoods. Most houses here were designed in variations of the Tudor, Period or Colonial Revival styles. Knute Rockne, Notre Dame`s famous football coach, lived at 1417 East Wayne in 1929 until his death in 1931.

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