Lincoln Way East

Local Historic District, 1984

The Lincoln Way East local historic district was designated by ordinance in 1984. It has been certified as eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places as it was once part of Route 20, the coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway. The street was once known as Vistula Avenue, but when the Lincoln Highway was established the name was changed to Lincoln Way East.

The property within the district was originally owned by Christian Holler, a pioneer of German Township, who purchased the land in 1829 from the U.S. Land Office in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He sold it in 1835 to fellow pioneers, Samuel and Mary Leer. The Leer's hewn-log cabin remained on the property until as late as 1907. In 1870, Samuel and Mary's children partitioned the land, and several disputes arose from this inheritance.

In 1886 and again in 1888, Jacob Leer subdivided the land along old Vistula Road leaving the land south of the railroad clear for agriculture. The area was further subdivided in 1907 and 1923. The first house built after the creation of the subdivision was likely that of Catherine C. Wenger, the widow of Martin Wenger. It was a frame Queen Anne residence located at 1164 Lincoln Way East and built in 1890. Catherine and Martin were pioneers who homesteaded directly to the west of the Leer property.

After 1895 this area developed rapidly, probably due to its favorable location on the Saint Joseph River, and its ready access to the South Bend and Mishawaka streetcar line, established in 1882 along Vistula Avenue. The neighborhood filled with middle-class family homes built primarily between 1890 and 1925, in a variety of styles including American Foursquare, Queen Anne, and Bungalows.