North St. Joseph Street

The North Saint Joseph Street local historic district is adjacent to the River Bend District. It was established by the Common Council of South Bend in 1998. 

It is located immediately outside of the plat of the original town of South Bend. Throughout the 19th century it remained undeveloped, and marked by a steep hillside overlooking the bottomland where the failed Kankakee Mill Race emptied into the St. Joseph river. Until the 1870s, this vicinity was occupied by only a few agricultural buildings. 

During this and the following decade, houses, businesses and the Turners Hall were constructed along Michigan Street. After 1885 Christian Soens operated a brick mill and drying yards located in the lowland which became St. Joseph Street.

As late as 1898 no streets extended more than a half block east of Michigan Street in the area, but in 1903, just prior to the layout of the neighborhood for residential development, Bartlett Street extended to the river, establishing the edge of Leeper Park. 

St. Joseph Street was first platted in this part of the city as the east boundary of the Rockstroh Brothers' Second Addition in 1899. The east side of the street was then established as building lots in Hammond & Whitcomb`s Addition were platted in 1903.

The 1904 City directory reveals that houses sprang up quickly on Navarre Street and the east side of St. Joseph Street soon after platting. It is clear from the bird`s-eye view photographs from the late 19th century that considerable landfill was required to raise the level of the bottomland sufficiently to allow construction and habitation. 

By 1912 the neighborhood between St. Joseph Street and Marion Boulevard (now Riverside Drive) was nearly half full with 39 houses having been constructed. The district was predominantly middle-class until the Second World War. The neighborhood was located within easy walking distance to the streetcar line on Michigan Street.