The River Bend Neighborhood is part of the much larger Near Northwest Neighborhood Association and has two historic districts within its boundaries: River Bend Local Historic District, founded in 1992, and North St. Joseph Street Local Historic District, founded in 1998.
Both historic areas reflect the era of South Bend's architectural development from the turn of the century until just after World War I. A four-story grist mill stood on this site from 1837 until 1850. Many other business ventures came and went. However, in 1903, Hammond and Whitcomb began platting neighborhoods here. By 1921 the neighborhood stood essentially as it does today. Almost 80 percent of the residents were either businessmen, professionals or held white-collar jobs. Mayor Eli F. Seebirt lived here for many years and in 1922 to 1926 his administration founded the City Planning Commission.
River Bend has seen its twists and turns over the years. The curve is on an upswing these days. Young families attracted to the urban life are joining college students and older neighbors who have spent most of their life in the neighborhood.
The neighborhood lies between Michigan Street and the St. Joseph River just north of downtown South Bend. River Bend includes a variety of single-family homes, including some that were once divided into apartments, but have been restored.
"It's coming along," said a member of the Historic Preservation Commission of South Bend and St. Joseph County, who lives there and recalls how the neighborhood started changing more than 30 years ago.
"It was affordable," she says. "They were calling us urban pioneers.' There weren't any kids there. Our kids were born in 1977. We had twins. Around 1977, 1978, people started having kids in the neighborhood. There was quite a collection of kids in the neighborhood."
Meanwhile the couple worked to restore its home that had once been used as a rooming house.
Another family, who bought a house that had been moved from St. Joseph Street to Navarre Street, has also worked to restore their home. During renovations of the front porch, when they found a long-ago worker's name on a truss, they signed their own underneath to add to the historical record.