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At the turn of century, Bloomington boasted a small but growing university, a healthy limestone industry, and most importantly, the Showers Brothers Company, "the world's largest furniture factory," which produced Golden Oak furniture for the nation. In the 1890's, the Showers brothers developed a two-block area adjacent to their Walnut Street homes as a residential district for their families and friends.

Their decision was undoubtedly influenced by the relocation of the furniture factory to the west side after the fire of 1884 and the opening of the new campus in Dunn's Woods in the same year. With those momentous changes, the hub of Bloomington shifted to the northeast, while industry centralized in the area adjacent to the Illinois Central Railroad.

The proposed North Washington Street Historic District, just northeast of downtown, retains the character of an affluent residential district of the 1890's and early 1900's in a small Indiana town. It continues to portray the Showers "building boom" that was discussed in the Bloomington Telephone of 1892. The Queen Anne buildings erected by W.N. Showers and J. D. Showers, and the eclectic and Colonial Revival buildings erected by their children, remain a remarkable collection of residences in a neighborhood of great architectural integrity.


At least a dozen of the twenty-nine buildings in the district are associated with the Showers family, and others with their prominent industrial and financial friends, including the Grahams, Buskirks, Sewards, Teters and Matthews. Unfortunately the Walnut Street homes of J. D. Showers and W. N. Showers have been razed . After years as surface parking, ultimately this area was developed as a condominium project.

The district remained one of the most prestigious residential districts in Bloomington well into the twentieth century; residents included quarry presidents, bank presidents, a state senator's widow, a doctor and Indiana University professors, among others. Other comparable neighborhoods of that era, including the residences surrounding the old Seminary Square campus on Second Street and the neighborhood on East Kirkwood near the courthouse square have been entirely lost to demolition.

Eventually the location of the North Washington District, near the downtown business center and Indiana University, caused a gradual shift from the turn-of-the-century use (residences for one to three families, perhaps including servants) to residences shared by several students or converted to apartment units. Commercial uses increased just outside the south edge of the district and along Walnut Street when it was rezoned for business use.

Historical Properties for North Washington Street