"Park" is main artery for city.
By Howard Greninger
From its stone entrance and fountain at 19th Street, Ohio Boulevard is literally a residential city park extending into Deming Park at Fruitridge Avenue.
"Sooner or later, you see just about everybody in Terre Haute as they ride a bike, walk by or skateboard. It's a main artery in the city," said C. Don Nattkemper, an attorney and 20-year resident on the boulevard. "It is very hard to get yard work done because people come by and stop or honk their car horn or wave.
"It just seems like a magnet for people to get out and get about," he said.
he boulevard's 80-foot wide medians are actually 46.1 acres of city-owned and maintained park ground. The medians, and the sidewalk across the road on the north and south sides, are a natural attraction for joggers or people walking their dogs.
The first half mile of the boulevard, developed from 19th Street to 25th Street, is lined with 20th century revival architectural style, including two-story Colonial-, Tudor- and Mediterranean-revival homes, built in the 1920s. Nattkemper's home, in the 2100 block, was built in 1924. The home has its original tile roof.
The entire boulevard is scattered with ranch-style homes built in the 1940s through the late 1960s, property assessment records show. New single-family condominiums and single-family homes are being built this year along the south side of the boulevard on land across from Deming Park.
Janet and Frank Volkers lived at 19th and Ohio Boulevard for nine years before moving to their current home of five years at 21st and Ohio. Their business, the Volkers Group, is nearby at 11th and Ohio streets.
"Frank and I like it because of the three C's - convenience; comfort in the fact that we have big yards and mature trees; and classic. It's like owning a good old car. I'm an urbanite instead of a suburbanite. I really like living in the city," Janet Volkers said.
"It's really lovely and the boulevard gives a nice sense of space to the whole neighborhood. No one is really close to you," she said.
The Deming Land Co. - Demas Deming Jr., president, and L.E. Waterman, secretary - platted "Deming subdivision" on April 23, 1919, Vigo County surveyor records show. Its borders were Wabash Avenue, Poplar Street, 19th Street and Fruitridge Avenue. A stone gateway at 19th Street was built by the Terre Haute Monument Co. It was completed a month later, according to the May 24, 1919, Saturday Spectator. The Deming platted map shows the gateway fountain's original site between double columns at 19th Street. The fountain later was moved east to its present location on a teardrop-shaped section of the median between 19th and 20th streets.
Original lot prices on the boulevard ranged from $2,700 for a 45- by 120-foot lot to $7,200 for a 90- by 120-foot one.
Construction on the boulevard started in 1921, with the second half, stretching one mile from 25th Street to Fruitridge Avenue, completed in 1922. The second section began after the city paid $156,000 in 1921 to Demas Deming for land to create Deming Park.
In a flier at the Vigo County Historical Museum, the Deming Land Co. touts its new project as taking protective measures to guard property values. They include a "building line, no billboards, no roofs of wooden shingles or roll roofing, no cows, no stores or business buildings, no old houses moved to the lots, established grade of lots above which a neighbor cannot fill in with dirt from excavation, all downspouts connect with sewer, no high-board fences and one house to a lot except on corners."
OHIO BOULEVARD FAST FACTS
- Ohio Boulevard starts at 19th Street, where it is narrowest at 106 feet wide. It expands to 190 feet wide at 20th Street, extending east to Fruitridge Avenue. That includes an 80-foot wide median, which is city park land. The streets are 30 feet wide with a 25-foot set back for a tree row and sidewalks.
- The boulevard is 1.5 mile long. It was designed by nationally renowned landscape architect and city planner George E. Kessler.
- Ohio Boulevard was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
- The entrance fountain near 19th Street and Ohio Boulevard was restored and dedicated as part of "Remembrance Plaza" on Sept. 11, 2002, to honor those killed during terrorists attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., the year before.
- Before the Ohio Boulevard project, a narrow median extended from 10th Street east to 19th Street, lined with catalpa trees.
Source: Vigo County Historical Society, Vigo County Surveyor Records