Street Life: Lombard Avenue

My family lives on a shady East Side street that shares a name with one of the most famous streets in the world, in a city, I, unfortunately, have never visited. In San Francisco, Lombard Street is famous for having a steep, one-block section consisting of eight tight hairpin turns. Our Lombard is an avenue, the principal street in a moderately successful real estate development called Bellemeade that was promoted as “a home site for the person tired of the city,” begun 100 years ago.

In this blog post, and over the next few weeks, I will share some of the research I have studied recently on the history of Lombard Avenue. Our city is fortunate to have had dedicated preservation officers who created and maintain excellent records — the late Joan Marchand and today, Dennis Au; I’m also thankful for Willard Library, where Ms. Marchand’s archives are housed. Mike Schopmeyer, a neighbor with an interest in history and preservation, shared with me useful records of his home. Evansville Living intern Nick Hebebrand contributed to the research.

In April 1913, Evansville veterinarian John R. Mitchell bought 40-plus acres approximately two miles from the city boundary of Kentucky Avenue. The south end of the tract was bounded by Washington Avenue and the north end was bounded by Lincoln Avenue. The tract was just south of Woodmere, the state hospital. Mitchell platted the land into 89 lots and named the north-south street Lombard Avenue.

Mitchell bought what was known as the McCallister-Terry farmhouse at 3515 Lincoln Ave. to live in while he was developing Bellemeade. This home was constructed in 1830 and, over the years, it has been enlarged and embellished.

The 89 lots, which cost $300 or $500, were advertised as “large enough to give breathing space and have your own flowers, fruits, and vegetables.”

Next week, I’ll write about the homes that line the east side of Lombard Avenue.

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