Skip to main content

Page last updated on January 25, 2018 at 11:52 am

The Greater Prospect Hill Historic District was named to distinguish it from Bloomington's earliest local district, which it geographically surrounds. Beginning as a Conservation District in 2008, Greater Prospect Hill is now a full historic district.

Greater Prospect Hill Historic District Guidelines

The recently revised guidelines reflect the resident's interest in retaining overall neighborhood character while making individual choices for owners more flexible. The objective of the Greater Prospect Hill Historic District guidelines is to preserve the overall distinctive character of the Prospect Hill neighborhood by conserving its historic architectural fabric. The Greater Prospect Hill Historic District and the City of Bloomington seek to maintain the economic diversity, affordability, sustainability and flexibility of the neighborhood as well as make it possible, reasonable and affordable for property owners to update or repair their homes. The GPHHD and the City also seek to assist new and existing property owners, architects and contractors who wish to live and/or work in the GPHHD.

Greater Prospect Hill Design Guidelines

Neighborhood History

Originally the town lots south of Third Street in Perry Township were called Seminary Lots. The land was randomly occupied by squatters who took advantage of the good agricultural land. When a sale was demanded by the town board, the land sold to more prominent citizens. The house at 308 South Maple is an old mid-nineteenth century gothic house that faced Third Street when most of the land was farmland. Professor Amzi Atwater of the State Seminary (the institution that preceded Indiana University) noted that "on the hill south of town was one of the attractive, sightly places in town, though the house was simply a large cottage. It was the home of Judge James Hughes and was surrounded by evergreens." This house lay south of Paris Dunning and the grounds were called the "Prospect property." As late as 1865, Judge Hughes remained on the hill with few neighbors

Enos Blair and Jacob Lowe were the most prominent early citizens to reside in the area on what were then large rural tracts. Both dabbled in local politics, holding judicial, appointed, and elective positions in the very new settlement of Bloomington. Many of the abstracts for the modest homes that now line the streets of Prospect Hill boast the names of prominent citizens who later speculated in land development there: Henry Woolery, James and William Showers. Early vernacular houses are scattered throughout the survey area. The houses at 521 West Smith and 911 West Third Street are excellent examples of the double pen form.There are at least two restored shotguns in the district. More common however are gabled-ell and pyramidal roof houses, many with early twentieth-century brick or stone porches, and far fewer with the original wood supports still intact. The architectural period of significance of the Greater Prospect Hill District extends through the 1930's, but pointedly does not contain the revival style homes so enthusiastically built on the east side of town. More common to the later period are minimal vernacular cottages, with modest arts and crafts details, like the one at 329 South Maple. Two pent roof porticos are supported by knee braces and nominally decorated with exposed end rafters. The house is sided with textured asbestos shingling.

The area can boast two outstanding high-style examples. Hughes-Branum House at 308 South Maple is Bloomington's last intact example of a gothic-style house. Its dramatic façade with curvilinear barge boards and transomed and side lit entries, still commands the street. The house at 203 South Maple, is an unusual Queen Anne gabled-ell with wood awnings.

The Greater Prospect Hill Historic District encompasses the city out-lots west to Walker Street and excludes the existing national register district, including areas not thematically or architecturally linked to the original district. Part of GPHD is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Steele-Dunning District and boasts some of Bloomington's earliest duplex forms (1910). The southern boundary of the new local district is formed by what was once the South Side Stone Company also known as the Henly Stone Co., located upon the land that is now Building and Trades Park. It once provided the district with its working class base. By 1910 the mill had been abandoned, but most of the housing in the neighborhood had been developed, including an area known as "Sod Town" along Davison and Walker, where a more transient population lived. The area developed with homes interspersed with many small businesses, including groceries, cigar stores, dressmakers and leather supplies. Today the neighborhood thrives because of a vigorous neighborhood association and enthusiastic interest in building restoration and oral history.