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History runs deep on East and West drives, the site of this year's Northside Neighborhood Home and Garden Walk

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Home tour

What: The Northside Neighborhood Association's Home and Garden Walk will feature 11 stops. An art fair will take place as part of the event Saturday. The Bravas food truck will serve food, and The Ginger Kitchen will sell ice cream.
When: 6-9 p.m. Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday
Where: East and West drives, which are located one block north of State Boulevard and one block west of Anthony Boulevard on Fort Wayne's near northeast side. An information and ticket booth will be located at Dodge Avenue and Forest Park Boulevard.
Cost: $8 per person in advance, $10 the days of the tour. Tickets available in advance at Pio Market, 1225 E. State Blvd.; Deluxe Glass, 610 E. State Blvd.; and Crescent Avenue Gardens, 2725 Crescent Ave.

Historic ground

The Northside Neighborhood Association's Home and Garden Walk takes place Friday and Saturday on East and West drives in Fort Wayne. Here is a little history on the land on which the homes now stand:
•The ground was owned once by Samuel Hanna and later passed to Fred J. Hayden and his wife, Eliza, who was Hanna's only daughter. Hayden was elected in 1884 to the first of two terms as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives. He later served as a state senator representing Allen and Whitley counties. Hayden served on the board of directors of First National Bank and, in 1891, was appointed by the governor to Indiana's commission for the 1893 World's Fair.
•In 1889, the Fort Wayne Trotting Association leased the land that now includes East and West drives from Hayden and created Fort Wayne Driving Park, a site for harness racing. Hayden reportedly sold 100 acres to the association in 1892 for $16,500.
•Driving Park was part of harness racing's Grand Circuit, which meant races attracted some of the best horses and racers from around the country. The sons of Louis Centlivre, of local beer brewing fame, were among the local active horse breeders.
•In October 1895, Fort Wayne held its centennial celebration — one year late — at the Driving Park. Activities included military reviews, a high-wheeler bike parade, band contests and re-enactments of American troops defeating Native American attacks.
•In 1902, the Fort Wayne Fair Association took over the park and used it as the site of local fairs.
•In January 1911, future aviation hero Art Smith attempted his first flight at Driving Park in a plane he built himself. Reports said his plane made a brief series of steep climbs and dives before crashing, leaving him bedridden for a month as he recovered. However, the “Bird Boy,” as he became known, went on to be a renowned stunt pilot, military flight instructor and air mail pilot. He died after crashing in February 1926 near Bryan, Ohio, while making a mail-delivery run.
•In 1913, the Fort Wayne Fair Association, which was struggling financially, sold the fairgrounds to Louis Curdes, a local developer. Curdes used the land to create Forest Park Boulevard and East and West drives, which were among the early city suburbs designed for homeowners with automobiles.
Sources: Linda Kirby, Northside Neighborhood Association; “History of Fort Wayne & Allen County,” Volume 1, edited by John D. Beatty; and “Fort Wayne Cityscapes,” by Michael C. Hawfield

The event marks 100th anniversary of the housing development.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 12:01 am

There is a lot of history in the homes tucked among the stately trees along East and West drives just northeast of downtown. There is even more history in the ground beneath them.

The land served as a home for harness racing around 1900 and later as the city's first fairgrounds. Famous local aviator Art Smith lifted off, briefly, from the site while attempting his first flight. The area later became part of one of Fort Wayne's first suburbs designed for homeowners with automobiles.

You can tour the homes and learn some of the history Friday and Saturday during the Northside Neighborhood Association's Home and Garden Walk. The event celebrates the 100th anniversary of the land's development as the current housing addition

You can visit 11 tour stops while strolling a total of about three blocks. The tour, which is open 6-9 p.m. Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday, includes five homes and their gardens, five gardens and one home only. Artists will sell work Saturday during an art fair.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 the days of the tour.

Most of the homes on the two streets were built from about 1930 to 1950, said Linda Kirby, Northside Neighborhood Association board secretary. Her Tudor-style home and gardens at 2601 East Drive will be among those on the tour.

Kirby will have lived in the home for 16 years as of this September, she said. They moved into it in partly because it is located within several minutes of downtown. Also, “the house had a lot of charm and character, as well as the other homes in the neighborhood,” she said.

Her house was built by general contractor Frank A. Kintz as his “retirement” home, though he previously lived only about a block and a half away, Kirby said. Along with nice woodwork, it also has some special features, including a small hat room off the front doorway where a lady could put on and adjust her hat just before heading out the door.

Kirby also loves the neighborhood, including being able to walk the few blocks to Lakeside Park.

“We have nice people here, people who are interested in the neighborhood, interested in the city and interested in downtown,” she said.