Sunday, July 5, 2009

Building Northridge: Ridge Avenue @ Neff Park/Harshman Plat

Continuing with the series on the development of Northridge and points north, Daytonology investigates the earliest plats, Neff Park and the Harshman Plat (named Fieldston in later mapping) on Ridge Avenue. This would be the first section of Fieldston; the additional property would be platted under this name further west on Ridge. For a discussion of Northridge platting history see Platting Northridge.

Ridge Avenue dates from sometime between 1875 and 1898, but this part of Ridge was the first part platted in town lots, perhaps in response to Stop 3 of the Dayton & Troy interurban.

The maps below show the two plats, Neff Park in light orange and Fieldston in yellow. The arrangement of the interurban running down a median is clear in these maps, providing a traffic-free right-of-way into the city.

The lot lines as of 1930 for the plats west of New Troy Pike (Dixie Drive) compared to a modern aeriel. The area of interest is outlined in red, and the interurban stop shown. Since this was within walking distance of the stop the assumption is that this street would see a lot of pre-war development driven in-part by transit access.

A close-up of the platting on Ridge as of the 1930s. Harshman's Fieldston plat on the south side of the street has noticeably larger lots, and there's evidence of lot splitting.

(click on the pix to enlarge for more detail)

Drawing the 1930s lot lines on the modern aerial one can see how the area densified, with two houses on one lot in some cases. The lots closes to Dixie Drive have been combined for auto-oriented commerical use. The configuration of Dixie Drive itself changed as the road was enlarged to four lanes, taking the interurban median and the frontage road. If there was any pre-war commercial development at "Stop 3" (intersection of Ridge and Dixie) it has been subsequently removed and replaced

Mapping out the prewar housing, determined by visual inspection of houseforms. The entire block was not built-out before WWII, and there is evidence of larger lots being split for additional housing in the postwar era, particularly on the south side of Ridge Avenue

And a few aerials of the neighborhood, giving a bit of the flavor of the place. This is interesting as it's such a transitional area between different ways of building-out suburbia.

A Stop 3 Gallery

If there is a Stop 8 place name this is Stop 3. One can see a transition from 19th century house types to bungalows and foursquares, to the 1940s cottage style, and then to some postwar types.

This house is a good example of the urban I house found on the backstreets of North and East Dayton. It's a later form (developed in the later 19th century) since it doesnt have the four windows on the gable end facing the street, and was either built when Ridge Avenue was opened up (predating the interurban plats) or it was one of the first houses built on the Neff Park plat (north side of Ridge). It's in excellent condition (on the exterior).

One of the ubiquitous four squares, this one is a bit different as it doesn't have a hip roof . A little bungalow next door. Note that there is no sidewalk here, yet the houses are still set somewhat close to the street. Perhaps the transference of siting practices for urban lots to a suburban locations when suburbia was new..."we've always done it this way".

The Northridge area has some of the best bungalow, Craftsman, and "California doll house" style houses in Dayton. This housing stock is an unrecognized treasure. Here, two bungalows. The one to the left is probably earlier, and has some fine detailing.
LinkA 1940s cottage that is also a version of the "California Doll House" (the famous concentration is in Carmel), which uses exaggerated forms, distorted scale, and picturesque styling to create a storybook cottage feeling for small houses.

Three generations of urban vernacular. One the far left a version of the ubiquitous four square. In the middle a postwar houseform often found on prewar plats. The form might have evolved from pre-war bungalow cottages, but the styling and material are akin to the postwar brick ranch, except the siting on a lot is to put the gable, or short end, of the house facing the street, to take advantage of narrow lot frontage.

In this case the lot itself was a large lot belonging to the house on the far right, but was split to put this house on it, increasing the density of the neighborhood. And on the right, another I house, one of the first on the street.

Finally, another example of the excellent Northridge bungalows, exterior pretty close to original condition and with a nice privet hedge in the front yard. To the right is a postwar ranch, illustrating how build-out stopped during the Depression and resumed during the 1940s and postwar era, using quite different architecture.
The result is a visually rich neighborhood, avoiding the monotony of serial construction and housing from just one stylistic era.


George Drury Smith said...

My grandparents moved to Martin Avenue in Northridge around 1927. (I think this was further north than the Neff Park/Harsman Plat.) As I recall that was around "Stop 7" on the old interurban traction. Their house was a new 2-story "Dutch colonial" surrounded by vacant lots and a few older bungalows There was a dairy farm on the other (west) side of "Dixie Pike" (Troy Pike, Route 25), and across the "crick" behind their house on Gypsy Drive lived what was said to be a Gypsy king. There were annual Gypsy reunions there, with people purportedly coming from all over the country. There was also a Nomad Avenue, perhaps reflecting the nomadic habits of the Gypsies.

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