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City of Bloomington, Indiana

Prospect Hill was Bloomington's first local historic district, listed in 1991. In the 1960s, these houses had fallen into disrepair and most were shabby rental units. Today that devastation is almost unimaginable. Prospect Hill's resurgence is also the story of the activism of Wilbert Sturbaum, Rosemary Miller, Bloomington Restorations and others. Between 1968 and 2005, Sturbaum purchased and restored 7 homes in the district. Rosemary Miller championed the preservation of the Paris Dunning House, which was to have been demolished for street construction in the 1980s. The continuing efforts of current owners make this area the strongest of neighborhood voices in our community.

 

HISTORY

The Prospect Hill Addition was platted and annexed to the City on June 7, 1893. It was laid out on a rounded hill on what was then the southwestern edge of Bloomington, with South Rogers, Fairview, Third and Smith Streets as its borders. The McPheeters Addition, which encompasses the eastern edge of the district, was platted and annexed in 1888.

The neighborhood was developed as a prestigious upper middle-class area surrounded by workers' cottages on the east, north and later to the west. It represents the only remaining area developed as a professional residential neighborhood on the west side of town, after the loss of many houses on West Kirkwood to commercial development. Residents included a lawyer, a railroad conductor, store owners and employees of the Showers Brothers furniture company.

The architecture of the district represents various "high styles" popular between 1890 and 1925, a time of growing affluence in Bloomington. Queen Anne, Free Classic and Period Revival style houses, some designed by prolific Bloomington architect John Nichols are present. There are also several examples of vernacular style houses, two mid-nineteenth century houses with Greek Revival and Federal details and bungalows and American four-squares of the 1920s. One represents Bloomington's largest and most visible example of a Sears Kit Home, 'the Alhambra' Another is believed to be Bloomington's only example of the architectural firm Crapsey and Lamm. This diverse group of homes is a microcosm of Bloomington's overall residential history.

The Prospect Hill Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 1991. Within the year, district residents were also successful at establishing Bloomington's first locally designated historic district.