The Chapin Park Local Historic District was designated in March 2005 after four years of study, discussion, and planning. The district includes 284 properties, brick streets, mature trees, and the remaining George Cutter Company Parkview streetlights.
The boundary of the local district are roughly the Riverside Drive Local Historic District and the alley between California and Rex to the North; a portion of the alley between Ashland and Portage Avenues, Portage Avenue, and the alley between Leland, Navarre, and Portage to the Southwest; William Street to the West; Madison Street to the South; and Lafayette Boulevard to the East. The boundaries are similar to the Chapin Park National Register District listed in 1982.
The primary purpose of the local designation is to maintain the unique and diverse residential character of the district and to preserve the original brick streets, mature trees, and streetlights. Local Historic District status helps preserve and retain these items in a manner that cannot be accomplished through basic zoning and building code and National Register listing.
The district takes its name from the estate of Horatio Chapin, which was once known as Chapin's Park in the 1870s. Chapin purchased about forty acres of land north of South Bend and along the Saint Joseph River in 1855 and built the Gothic Revival house by 1857. This house is located at the corner of Navarre and Park Avenue.
Arriving in 1831, the Chapin's were early settlers of South Bend. Horatio Chapin was a merchant, before becoming a cashier for the South Bend branch of the State Bank of Indiana. Horatio was also an active Presbyterian who helped establish the area's first ecumenical religious school in 1833. The Chapin's raised four children, Mary Chapin Anderson, Edward Chapin, Martha B. Chapin, and Jane Chapin. Mary Chapin and Andrew Anderson married in 1857 and lived downtown near Anderson's law office before settling on the Chapin estate in 1871. Between 1871 and 1875, the Anderson's had built their Italianate residence. Andrew Anderson was a prominent trial lawyer and was one of the founding members of the Saint Joseph County Bar Association and Law Library. After the death of Martha B. Chapin in 1873, Horatio's two surviving children - Mary and Edward - inherited the property and agreed to divide the property in 1875 along what is now Park Avenue.
1875 marks the end of this area's first period of significance and development. The wilderness on the banks of the Saint Joseph river had been for the most part transformed into a private family estate and orchard. The 1875 Saint Joseph County Atlas includes a map of this portion of South Bend. The essential geography of the area had been laid out with Shetterley Place to the west of the Chapin Estate, and the Burroughs and Henricks and Grant subdivisions to the south.
1875 also marks the beginning of the transformation of the estate into the residential neighborhood that exists today. Between 1875 and 1890, several more houses were built in the neighborhood, including the Lyons House and the Anderson House. In 1890, Christopher Fassnacht, contractor, developer and builder, purchased the Horatio Chapin House and began to plot the southern portion of the Chapin Estate. The property owned by Mary and Edward was subdivided into residential plots also at this time, and the brick streets were laid by South Bend contractors. The 1911 atlas of Saint Joseph County illustrates the layout of the neighborhood's streets and parcels. By 1925, the majority of the houses had been constructed in a variety of architectural styles and types.
Practically every residential style is exhibited in this neighborhood with the exception of the Federal and Greek revivals, the Romanesque, and exotic period revivals. Several local architects designed houses or lived in the district such as: W. W. Schneider, Ernest Young, Ennis Austin, and E. Will Turnock.
More detailed information about each property may be available.