Leinkauf Historic District
The Leinkauf Historic District was Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.[†] Adaptation copyright © 2013, The Gombach Group.
Located on the south side of Government Street slightly less than one mile west of Broad Street, the Leinkauf Historic District is comprised of 333 primary structures covering an area of approximately 110 acres. This district is bounded on the north by Government Street and the Old Dauphin Way Historic District; bounded on the east by South Ann Street, the Oakleigh Garden Historic District and Magnolia Cemetery; bounded on the south by Eslava Street and 1920's subdivisions; and bounded on the west by South Monterey Street and Park Terrace Subdivision (1927).
Leinkauf Historic District (1896-1940) was settled as an early 20th-century streetcar suburb adjacent to the Government Street trolley line. This district surrounds Leinkauf School (1904) and playground, which occupy two-thirds of a block and one third block respectively, along Church Street. Most blocks in the neighborhood are approximately 300 feet by 400 feet with several irregularly shaped blocks formed at the junction of the earliest streets and the later, turn-of-the-century streets. These streets are asphalt paved in a grid pattern, concrete curbed and flanked by concrete sidewalks. Several blocks retain their original 15-foot alleyways; however, most of the alleyways have been vacated and incorporated into adjoining lots.
Leinkauf's older streets average a width of 50 feet, although two exceptions are Michigan Avenue with an 80-foot width and McDonald Avenue, an 80-foot wide boulevard. The streets are lined with rectangular lots averaging a frontage of 50 feet by 150 feet deep. Occasionally, lots have been doubled or subdivided. Houses in the central portion of the district are set back 15 to 20 feet with moderately planted yards while homes along Michigan Avenue, McDonald Avenue and South Monterey Street are set back 20 to 30 feet, more heavily planted and well shaded by numerous live oaks.
Regional architectural characteristics, style and building material blend the various subdivisions together to form a homogenous district. Housing forms and styles throughout the district reflect the range of styles and forms popular from 1900 to 1940. Housing forms found in the district include one- and two-story T-plans, irregularly massed plans, bungalows and Four Squares. These forms appear in a variety of styles such as Queen Anne, Classic Revival, Craftsman/Mission and Period Revivals. A single Greek Revival Gulf Coast Cottage is a unique house form and style remaining in the district as a reminder of the area's rural beginnings.
Most buildings in the Leinkauf Historic District were constructed between 1896 and 1940, with the greatest portion built between 1905 and 1936. After 1929, the depression and lot availability caused a decrease in building activity in the area; however, speculative construction following earlier architectural trends continued on remaining lots until the early 1940s when Mobile's World War II population boom created a need for additional new suburbs farther to the west and south.
Leinkauf Historic District boundaries delineate a concentration of structures that represent local 19th-century regional influences on national architectural trends of the early 20th century. Elements such as raised brick foundations, large recessed or projecting porches, low pitched roofs with wide eaves, walk-through windows and double leaf windowed doors appear in various combinations on much of the neighborhood's housing stock. These late 19th-century features combine with architectural styles including Queen Anne, Classic Revival, Colonial Revival, Craftsman/Mission and English Period Revival to give the area a unique local flavor and illustrate a shift in housing style from the late 19th to early 20th century. These factors, along with common architectural elements of material, size and scale, assist in unifying the neighborhood. Also found in the district are the works of several prominent local architects: Clarence L. Hutchisson, Sr., George B. Rogers, William H. March and Aloysius H. Downey.
The district includes an 1840 Greek Revival Gulf Coast Cottage which would be individually eligible as representing Mobile's pre-Civil War regional architecture.
Leinkauf Historic District represents early 20th-century suburban expansion in Mobile to the west and south. This area is typical of Mobile's housing boom west of downtown between 1900 and 1940 which was first settled as upper class suburbia and later infilled by working-class residents as city limits extended westward. Developed concurrently with the Old Dauphin Way Historic District (NR 1984) to the north of Government Street, Leinkauf is comprised of 5 entire subdivisions and portions of 4 others, all platted between 1890 and 1919. One of these subdivisions, Flo-Claire (1908) was one of the first middle class suburbs in Mobile to utilize some features of the "City Beautiful" movement. Other similar suburbs of the period include Fearnway (1908), Monterey Place (1910) and Blacklawn (1914) (all part of the Old Dauphin Way Historic District). Ashland Place Subdivision, an upper-class neighborhood, was begun in 1905; however, no houses were constructed until 1908.
Leinkauf Historic District is composed of 5 entire subdivisions and portions of 4 others: a very small portion of the Gazzam Tract (early 1800s); remnants of the Dexter Tract (1835-subsequently resubdivided); Glendale Park (1890-northern one-third); Tuttle Property (1893); Tuttle Addition (1896-formerly part of Dexter); Elizabeth Porter Subdivision (1901); Flo-Claire Subdivision (1908-previously McDonald farm); McDonald-Southern Realty Subdivision (1909-formerly McCarron farm); and the Bestor Subdivision (1919).
Everett, Stocking and Dexter Streets, the earliest north-south streets in the district, were constructed perpendicular to Government Street prior to 1856. Likewise, Church, Monroe and Eslava Streets were the earliest east-west streets in the district. These streets, most likely laid out by Andrew Dexter after 1835, appear to be an early 19th-century extension of Mobile's original grid plan running from the urban core to the rural countryside along Government Street that was constructed in anticipation of westward expansion. Tuttle Avenue was added to this plan in the early 1890s with the subdivision of the Tuttle Property and Tuttle Addition. Apparently, during this same re-subdivision of the Dexter Tract in the 1890s, Dexter Avenue was moved 100 feet to the east.
Michigan Avenue (named for the developers' home state) was added in 1890 as Glendale Park's principal thoroughfare. In an attempt to rival Government and Dauphin Streets, Michigan Avenue was constructed as a broad residential street planted with numerous live oaks. Running parallel to South Ann Street, Michigan Avenue was aligned with true north as were the streets north of Government Street rather than being aligned with the early grid pattern. All subsequent streets constructed in the district were aligned with true north as well. McDonald Avenue and West Street were added in 1908 with the addition of Flo-Claire, and South Monterey Street was extended in 1909 as part of the McDonald-Southern Realty Subdivision. Finally, the last block of Eslava Street was completed in 1919 with the addition of the Bestor Subdivision.
Although the Auld House (1407 Government) was constructed in 1840, the Leinkauf area remained farm land and relatively unsettled until the very late 19th century. While affluent middle and upper class property owners began to locate along Government Street, no construction occurred to the south until 1896. Growth of the Leinkauf district mirrored Mobile's growth in population from 30,000 in 1890 to 60,000 in 1920. As would be expected, city-wide building permits increased during this period from 176 in 1890 to 330 in 1898. Permits had increased to 520 in 1904, the year in which Leinkauf School (1451 Church) was constructed to serve the needs of the area.
Some of this housing boom took place south of Government Street. During the years 1896 to 1910, local businessmen were building homes along Michigan, Stocking, Dexter and Tuttle Streets within walking distance of the trolley line on Government Street. These homes reflect the larger late 19th-, early 20th-century house forms and popular styles. As the city limits extended westward, smaller, less elaborate speculative houses were built for the middle-class workers who were beginning to move into the area (208, 210, 251, 253 Dexter circa 1898 - 256, 262, 264, 266 Stocking 1905 - 1411, 1413, 1414 Eslava 1906).
Mobile expanded to the west rapidly. Two middle/upper class suburbs, Flo-Claire in 1908 and McDonald-Southern Realty one year later, opened at the west end of the Leinkauf district. Farm land the previous year, Flo-Claire was advertised in 1908 as a private park with all city utilities and conveniences. An early step toward the "City Beautiful" concept, Flo-Claire retained a grid alignment while being the city's first instance of a green boulevard with park-like atmosphere which included entrance gates, larger residential lots with restrictive covenants, fountain and paved streets.
Between 1908 and 1930, wealthier property owners were attracted to the park-like western suburbs as a growing middle class continued to build along the older streets in the neighborhood. As the area's population increased, the school board authorized enlargement of Leinkauf School in 1908 and once again in 1911. By 1930 the city limits had passed the Leinkauf area and speculative bungalows rounded out the remaining vacant lots through 1940.
Although Leinkauf district is an early 20th-century neighborhood, other late 19th century house forms continued to be built in the area. The generic late Victorian cottages were constructed well into the 20th century (1411, 1413, 1415 Eslava 1906) as were the more numerous T-plans (211 Dexter circa 1898, 1464 Church 1898, 203 Tuttle 1900, 250 Dexter 1900, 1507 and 1511 Church 1903, 1450 Church 1904, 1508 Monroe 1906). Larger two-story T-plans and the more "picturesque" massed plans in the Queen Anne style also lingered through the early years of the 20th century (161 Michigan 1897, 211 Michigan 1899, 245 Michigan 1900, 352 South Ann 1906).
Regional characteristics are especially evident in the "Mobile Cottage." A boxy, single-story, massed floor plan with four to six rooms flanking a central passage, the Mobile Cottage dates from the late 19th century (these appear to be an evolution of the Gulf Coast Cottage) and is found throughout Mobile's older neighborhoods. By 1900 this house form had dropped the popular late Victorian era ornamentation to become a plainer early 20th century cottage (207 Dexter 1905, 207 Tuttle 1907, 306 South Monterey 1910). Occasionally these cottages appear as stylish examples (262 South Monterey 1909 Craftsman). All of the Mobile Cottages exhibit raised brick pier foundations, recessed or projecting porches, low pitched roofs and large windows.
Early 20th-century taste turned to less elaborate styles of architecture in reaction to the late Victorian period of ostentatiousness. As a result, a large part of Leinkauf's early 20th-century architecture reflects various combinations of Classic Revival, Craftsman/Mission and Period Revival. These changing tastes are illustrated by several examples of the American Foursquare, a simple early 20th-century house form (205 Dexter 1900, 262 Stocking 1905, 313 McDonald 1908). Fewer in number, almost pure examples of Classic Revival seem to be reserved for the larger residences in the area (253 West 1912, 1611 Government 1913).
Closely related and often mixed are the Craftsman and Mission style houses which promoted a respect and aesthetic for the natural qualities of wood, brick, stone, stucco, tile, leaded glass and stained glass. Of any one style, the Craftsman/ Mission appears most frequently throughout the Leinkauf district (301 West 1909, 260 South Ann 1913, 1615 Government 1923, 1563 Government 1926).
Clearly one of the most popular building types in the Leinkauf area after 1910 was the uniquely American Bungalow. Influenced by the Craftsman, Japanese, Prairie, Spanish Colonial, Classic Revival, Swiss Chalet and Adirondack styles of architecture, the Bungalow was built in many variations depending upon geographic region. Bungalows in the Leinkauf district most frequently exhibit combinations of the Craftsman, Mission, Mediterranean and Classic Revival styles (300 South Monterey 1910, 253 Michigan 1913, 1419 Monroe 1913, 308 Michigan 1914, 308 West 1919, 1560 Eslava 1920, 265 South Monterey 1923, 350 McDonald 1926, 1553 Church 1927). Two rarer examples found in the area are a Craftsman/Japanese and a Craftsman/Prairie style Bungalow (368 Michigan 1910, 306 West 1919).
While the Bungalow continued to remain popular until 1940 as a cheap, speculative housing unit, another unique American style of architecture appeared in the district. A renewed interest in romanticism after World War I combined with the Craftsman philosophy produced the Period Revival style. Moderately popular in the area between 1920 and 1935, this style is found in both small and large houses (1605 Government 1920, 257 McDonald 1927, 202 South Ann 1929, 306 Michigan 1929, 255 McDonald 1929, 306 McDonald 1931).
† Ellen Mertins, Historian, and Kevin Hunter, Architectural Historian, Mobile Historic Development Commission, Ashland Place Historic District, Mobile County, AL, nomination document, 1986, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.