Emily Kimbrough Historic District

History

The Emily Kimbrough Historic District makes up a small part of the East Central Neighborhood District (see the neighborhood map). sample-boyce house photo It became a local historic district in 1976 and placed on the national registry in 1978.

The district was named for Hoosier author Emily Kimbrough (born 1899) who lived in a house at 715 East Washington Street in the early years of this century. Her writing reflects Muncie's past, with reminiscences of the "East End", as the area was called earlier in the century.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the East End was the preferred neighborhood of Muncie's socially elite and prosperous citizens. Most houses in the district were built after the discovery of natural gas in Delaware County in 1886, an event which transformed Muncie into a commercial and industrial center of east central Indiana. The prosperity of the ensuing years may be seen today in buildings, which remain from this period.

garner house photo

Many of those who profited from the gas boom, either directly or otherwise, built homes in the East End. Among the many neighborhood residents who were important figures in Muncie's history were: James Boyce, industrialist, entrepreneur, foremost among Muncie's early promoters and responsible for bringing the Ball Brothers to Muncie; C.M. Kimbrough, president of the Indiana Bridge Company; John F. Wildman, owner of the Muncie Times; and Charles Over of the Over Glass Works.

cowan house exterior photo

Architecture

The Emily Kimbrough Historic District contains several of Muncie's significant late Victorian and Post-Victorian houses. Several were designed by local architects, the most prominent of whom were Cuno Kibele, Alfred Grindle, and Charles R. Houck. Each was responsible for some of the district's finest homes as well as for significant structures elsewhere in Muncie. The East End remained Muncie's finest residential area until roughly the time of World War I. Shifting tastes in architecture and the preference for suburban living encouraged the development of new areas such as Riverside and Westwood.

Though most of the architectural styles in the Emily Kimbrough Historic District are those which were popular during the gas boom years, several of the homes were built prior to 1886. Notable among these are the Italianate house at 601 East Washington Street; the Charles P. Sample house at 621 East Main Street built around 1879 with combined Greek and Gothic Revival elements; the Neely and Wolfe houses at 617 East Adams Street and 607 East Charles Street respectively, each of which displays both Greek Revival and Italianate forms; and the recently restored George W. Beemer house at 721 East Jackson Street, an excellent example of the late Italianate style which was immensely popular in Indiana during the 1870's and 1880's.

cowan house interior photo The district's prevailing style, Queen Anne, Free Classic and Colonial Revival, are given full and large-scale expression in the Emily Kimbrough Historic District, attesting to the prosperity of Muncie during and following the gas boom. Outstanding among the neighborhood's Queen Anne examples are two homes located at opposite corners of the intersection of Main and Pershing Streets. The James Templer house at 723 East Main Streets has an elaborate Eastlake style porch and wood ornaments and an octagonal, three-story corner tower. The W.P. Koons house at 802 East Main Street also has a three-story octagonal corner tower as well as Free Classic details.

Of the several fine Free Classic housed in the district, the Marin House at 803 East Washington Street is the most elaborate. Designed in 1903 by architect Alfred Grindle for George Maring of the Maring Hart Glass Company, the house is outstanding for its rich details such as those found in the cornice and window treatments. A more modest example of the Free Classic style is the Warner House at 608 East Charles Street with its Palladian window. The relatively small H.C. Kimbrough House at 715 East Washington Street has retained Free Classic details and is significant as the childhood home of Emily Kimbrough.

vatet house interior photo The district's most notable Colonial Revival house is the Charles Over House at 825 East Washington Street. The house was designed by Alfred Grindle and built in 1903 for Charles Over of the Over Glass Works. The ornate Neo-Classical detailing and the enormous scale of the house are its chief features of interest. Similar in design and scale is the Thomas House at 828 East Adams Street, also designed by Grindle.

Outstanding among the slightly later houses in the district are the American Four-Square house at 500 East Washington Street and the P.K. Morrison House, designed by architect Cuno Kibele in 1914. Both houses contain elements of the Prairie and Arts and Crafts styles. Non-Residential structures of special significance are the Neo-Classical Methodist Church at 801 East Main Street, designed by Charles H. Houck and built in 1912; the late Gothic Revival St. Lawrence Church, built in 1893 and its Neo-Jacobethan rectory; and the massive Masonic Temple, designed by architect Kibele and Garrard in the Tudor Gothic style and built in 1923.

Muncie's East End suffered decline common to urban residential areas during the Great Depression and especially during the post-World War II period. However, with the recently revived interest in neighborhood activity and in the historic architectural fabric of older neighborhoods, the East End is once again a fashionable place to live. Many of its homes are now well maintained or in a phase of restoration.

Memories

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"A childhood that was happy in great part, I think, because it was spent in a little town, where I was not a stranger to anyone. And so I am setting down these things, partly out of a debt of affection to the town, and partly because I would like to say over, for those of us who remember them, some of the things which we shall never see nor hear again. The lamp on the newel post lighted with a wax taper held high in the winter dusk. The gas fire which burned against an asbestos shield in my grandfather's den. The used carbon from the street corner lamps that made a good chalk for marking hopscotch squares. The street cry of fresh lye hominy and horseradish. And the squeak of wagon wheels on the snow. I shall not, I know be accurate, because I shall not event try to verify my memories. This no historic chronicle of a period. It is only an effort to say aloud some of the things which the smell of burning leaves in the fall brings back to my mind every year."

-- Emily Kimbrough, How Dear to My Heart, 1944