NR Description – Walls, Walks & Parks

The typical West End street is lined with granite curbs and has one or two narrow grassy strips, often planted with trees, dividing it from the sidewalks. Original brick sidewalks remain along two stretches of N. Spring Street, but the rest were built or replaced since the 1920’s with cement or concrete. Responding to the landscape, many of the house lots have retaining walls which separate the front yards from the sidewalks. These are usually of granite, with noteworthy examples being those at the Apartment Building at 72 West End Boulevard (28), at the J.J. Gentry House (48), at the Thomas LeDuc House (88), and at the W.B. Hawkins House (219). Other walls are constructed of other types of stone or brick, as exemplified by the handsome brick wall with granite cap at the Webb-Reece House (47)

Yards, if not terraced, are usually at least sloping and frequently have granite or other steps leading to the level of the house. Yards are lushly landscaped with numerous trees and shrubs. While the individual lots, because of their limited size, are not for the most part park-like in and of themselves, the cumulative effect of the total neighborhood landscaping creates a park-like atmosphere. Adding to this effect are several of the few vacant lots which have been converted to “green spaces” as well as the landscaped triangles found at eight street intersections.

An important part of Ludlow’s plan for establishing a picturesque landscape setting for the West End was the creation of several parks. At the center of the district is Grace Court (161), a bowl-shaped park bounded by Fourth Street, Fifth Street, Glade Street, and an alley. Originally located in a strategic position in front of the Zinzendorf Hotel, Grace Court remains a focal point for the neighborhood (especially since its ca. 1980 rehabilitation). Ludlow’s plan also delineated Springs Park (80), which remains intact as a quiet, wooded ravine retreat. Ludlow’s Little Louise Park at the NE corner of the West End appears never to have been developed. Along the NW boundary of the West End, Ludlow indicated a stretch of land along Peters Creek which he labeled “lawn.” In 1919 P.H. Hanes donated this land to the city for a park. Hanes Park (276), with its impressive stone entrance at the foot of Clover Street, its avenue of maples, footbridges over Peters Creek, and recreational areas, remains a source of pleasure for residents of the neighborhood and the city at large as well as serving as an appropriate closure for a large section of the northwestern edge of the West End. The district also contains two post-1960 “pocket parks”, a memorial garden (108) associated with Street Paul’s Church, as well as several vacant lots and parking lots.

In the West End the lush landscape establishes a complementary environment for the architecture which it surrounds. Steep lots with terraced front lawns and flights of steps provide impressive settings for similarly impressive houses. Particularly close relationships between the landscape and the architecture are seen when a material such as granite is used both for retaining walls and steps and for house foundations and porch elements, as at the W. Kerr Scott House (493), or when a garage with a terrace above is built into the hillside adjacent to the house, as at the W. Ernest Dalton House (323).

Another close relationship between the houses and the environment can be seen in the use of front porches. The West End is a neighborhood of porches, with most of the houses built during the primary period of development (1887-1930) having front porches and sometimes rear porches. These provide today, as they did originally, an easy transition from public (exterior) to private (interior) living spaces. They, like the sleeping porches found on the rear second story of many of the houses, also provide places for taking advantage of the cooling breezes often present in the hilly West End (as touted in an 1892 advertisement for the Zinzendorf Hotel).

National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination (1987)