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Alumni-Latham-Mooreland Historic District


Homes along Alumni Avenue, Alumni-Latham-Moorehead Historic District, Hopkinsville, KY, National Register

Photo: Homes along Alumni Avenue, Alumni-Latham-Moorehead Historic District, Hopkinsville, KY. The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Photographed by User:Nyttend (own work), 2014, [cc0-by-1.0 (creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed March, 2017.

The Alumni-Latham-Moorehead Historic District [†] was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

Description

Prior to the 1890s, the Alumni-Latham-Moorehead Historic District area consisted of farmland and woodlands outside the city limits of Hopkinsville. By the turn of the century construction along Main and Virginia Streets extended south past E. 20th Street. Here, Main Street angled to the southwest and outside the city limits became known as Cox Mill Road. Virginia Street extended south past the city limits and was known as Lafayette Road. Running east/west between these two streets was the Belt Line of the Illinois Central Railroad. The resulting triangle of land formed by the two streets and the railroad remained farmland until subdivisions began in 1900.

The oldest residence in the district appears to have been part of a small farmstead on the edge of town. The J. McHenry Tichenor house is a vernacular adaptation of the Queen Anne style and appears to have been built ca. 1895. The Victorian trim, beveled leaded paned window and interior embellishments remain intact.

The Crenshaw Addition in 1900 resulted in the platting of property along Alumni Avenue. Alumni Avenue was laid out in an east/west direction between S. Main Street and S. Virginia Street. The 1913 Sanborn map of the city shows twelve dwellings located along both sides of the street and construction of additional dwellings continued into the 1920s. The building boom of the period resulted in the platting of the John B. Trice Subdivision and the creation of Latham Avenue in 1916. Latham Avenue was designed to curve northwest from Main Street east and northeast to connect with Alumni Avenue. A number of homes were constructed along Latham Avenue by the early 1920s. The layout of both subdivisions reflected the growing popularity of the automobile. Rear alleys to accommodate horses and stables were omitted from the subdivisions and lots were laid out with at least 50' widths to provide driveways directly from the street.

The dwellings constructed along Alumni and Latham Avenues represent a wide variety of architectural styles popular nationwide in the early 20th century. Along these two streets are examples of the Craftsman, Tudor Revival, English Cottage, Spanish Revival and Colonial Revival styles. Contractors such as John Gunn are known to have constructed houses on these two streets and the dwelling at 114 Alumni Avenue is a mail order or pattern book design (an identical plan dwelling exists in Nashville, Tennessee).

The earliest style found in the neighborhood is the Colonial Revival style. The Colonial Revival style was widely used for residential construction in America after 1900 following a renewed interest in the designs of 18th century Colonial America. Colonial Revival dwellings stressed symmetry of design and the use of classically derived details such as Tuscan, Ionic, or Doric columns, wall pilasters, and fanlight entrance transoms.

A good example of this style is the Hershel Long House built ca. 1925 at 127 Latham Avenue. The house has a one-story portico on the main facade supported by Doric columns. The entrance has a fanlight transom and sidelights. A subtype of the Colonial Revival style is known as the American Foursquare. This design is also symmetrical in form and is two-stories in height with a hipped roof and one-story porch on the main facade. Both the J.B. Allensworth house and the Dr. F.M. Brown House on Alumni Avenue represent this design.

The most common style in the neighborhood is the Craftsman Bungalow style. This style was built between ca. 1910 and ca. 1930 and employed a wide variety of designs and materials. Most Craftsman dwellings in the neighborhood are of brick or frame construction, are horizontal in appearance, have large front porches with tapered wood and/or brick columns, and feature wide eaves with knee brace brackets and exposed rafters.

Houses in the neighborhood were built with the most modern of conveniences. Residences featured kitchens with the latest appliances and most were designed with built-in cabinets and many have breakfast nooks. Central heating, closets and other space saving amenities were part of the original plans.

Many homes exhibit interior detailing such as built-in bookcases, decorative molding, fireplaces with tile and brick surrounds, and a variety of light fixtures. Dwellings which have retained this detailing include the Dr. Frank H. Bassett House, the Clare Wheeler House, and Oscar Hewell House.

Most of the lots in the district are not very wide, averaging 50 feet in width, but are deep. Some measure 250 to 300 feet in length and fan out wide at the rear boundary. Some rear facades overlook planned flower beds, huge vegetable gardens or small fruit orchards. A few of the lots still have early garages and two still retain servant quarters. Other neighborhood residents remember other servant quarters and small stables for horses and buggies. None of the latter remain.

Since 1942, only a few houses have been constructed in the district and these are located in the east section of Mooreland Avenue. The original layout and plan of the neighborhood has not been altered and the streetscapes continue to be distinguished by large maple and oak trees. Alterations to district dwellings have not been extensive and the majority retain their original design and detailing. The most common alteration has been the application of vinyl siding to the exteriors of frame dwellings. This siding has resulted in the concealment of the original wood siding but the decorative detailing, design, and exterior fenestration of these dwellings remains intact. Other alterations to dwellings have been minimal and the neighborhood retains its integrity of design, materials, feeling, association, craftsmanship, site, and setting.

Significance

By 1909, M.F. Crenshaw had recorded a plat of his addition and was selling lots. In 1909 Ida Merritt's deed for Lot 20, on which stood the Tichenor House, states: "Crenshaw's Alumnae Avenue." In a Kentucky New Era newspaper article of May 18, 1992, writer Joe Dorris suggests that the avenue was named for Bethel College graduates. It is not known when the spelling was changed from Alumnae to Alumni. The lots sold rapidly, with many changing hands in 1909.

The early owners of the properties on the street included business and community leaders. The most prominent resident was Dr. Frank Bassett who built his home at 149 Alumni. Dr. Bassett served as Mayor from 1918 to 1922 and Christian County Clerk until his death in 1950. Other residents were Mr. Roy C. White who owned the White Tire Company, Dr. M.A. Gilmore, and H.H. Abernathy, department manager for Imperial Tobacco Company. Governor Ned Breathitt is said to have rented the property at 110 Alumni some time before he became governor of Kentucky.

Tradition states that two houses on Alumni, 106 Alumni and 110 Alumni, were designed by two sisters, Lotta and Ethel Gunn. Their brother, John Gunn, was the contractor. They are also said to be the designers and contractor of the residence at 126 Latham Avenue.

The John B. Trice subdivision, the second portion of the historic district to be developed, was platted in 1916. Trice developed the area out of his pasture and named it Anvirdale in honor of his oldest daughter Annie Virginia. It is bounded by Alumni Avenue on the southeast and Main Street on the northwest.

Latham Avenue was named for John C. Latham, a Confederate soldier, cotton broker and prominent New York banker. Although Latham moved to New York, he continued to be a valuable benefactor to the citizens of Hopkinsville. He paid for a Confederate monument at the Riverside Cemetery which he also paid to have designed and landscaped. He headed a movement to build a hotel in Hopkinsville, gave money to build a new Methodist Church and in 1907 averted a bank failure by loaning the City Bank $25,000 in gold. His will left land for two parks and a trust fund for the "worthy poor" of Hopkinsville (Henderson).

Sarabelle Bassett states that Dr. J.G. Gather and Irvin Rosebough were the local developers of Anvirdale. The lots were generous with up to 58 feet frontage and some as deep as 205 feet. W.O. Stone, owner of Stone Printing Company, resided at 128 Latham, and John A. Henderson, owner of J.A. Henderson Company, was at 132 Latham.

Mooreland Drive, the last street in the historic district to be developed, was the Duncan-Lile Addition plated in 1938. Willie Lile and James V. Duncan were its codevelopers. It was named for T.D. Moore, previous owner of the land and abutting property he continued to hold on S. Virginia Avenue. Long time resident Evelyn Drury states: "There was lots of building in 1940 to 1942 before the war really got going." Mooreland developed slowly because of World War II. As late as 1948, empty lots remained on the north side of the street.

Mooreland Drive was a restricted residential neighborhood that reflected the changing times and developers' perceptions of what was and was not acceptable in the area. Four restrictions were imposed on the owners of properties on Mooreland Drive which had not been imposed on owners of properties on Alumni and Latham Avenues. 1) No person of African descent could buy on the street. 2) All residences had to cost $3,500 or more. 3) No filling station could be erected or operated in the subdivision. 4) No grocery store could be erected or operated on the street.

Tom Roney, part owner of Stone Quarry, was the first to build on the street. Dr. Owen Prewitt's Tudor at 121 Mooreland was second. The third house was built in 1939. During the 1950s, the Grace Episcopal parsonage was located at 109 Mooreland.

The earliest dwellings built in the neighborhood reflect the Colonial Revival style of the early 1900s. The majority of these dwellings are built in the American Foursquare plans of the period. These designs feature symmetrical floor plans, hipped roofs with hipped dormers, one-story porches with Tuscan columns, and classical detailing such as eave modillion blocks. Several dwellings also reflect the Colonial Revival variation known as Dutch Colonial which features a gambrel roof.

The Craftsman style is the most common style found along Alumni and Latham Avenues. The Craftsman style (also known as the Bungalow style) was popular in America from ca. 1910 to ca. 1930. The peak years of this style's nationwide popularity coincided with the development of Alumni and Latham Avenues. The Craftsman style employed a wide variety of designs and materials with an emphasis on horizontal proportions and large front porches.

Other owners and builders in the district looked for their inspiration in Tudor period residences of England. There are several examples of Tudor Revival dwellings in the district. Tudor Revival dwellings feature high pitched gable roofs, large chimneys on the main or secondary facades, casement windows, stucco and half-timbering in the gable field, and rounded arched entrances and doors. Porches are often minimal or omitted altogether on these dwellings.

The other major revival style represented in the district is the Spanish Revival style. The Spanish Revival style is distinguished by its low, horizontal appearance, use of red clay roof tiles, and exteriors of brick or stucco. The influence of this style can be seen in several dwellings on Alumni and Latham Avenues.

By the 1930s and 1940s dwellings became more simplified in their design and detailing in a form referred to as Minimal Traditional. These dwellings are based on the Tudor Revival or Colonial Revival styles but lack decorative detailing. Minimal Traditional dwellings were built extensively along Mooreland Drive.

By the early 1940s the majority of lots in the neighborhood had been developed and with the exception of a few lots on Mooreland Drive, dwellings lined the streets of the neighborhood.

The Alumni-Latham-Mooreland Historic District is Hopkinsville's most representative collection of early 20th century architectural styles. This conclusion is based upon the 1992 reconnaissance survey which examined all areas of Hopkinsville developed prior to 1945. Unlike the significant neighborhoods composed primarily of vernacular dwellings, Alumni-Latham-Mooreland is distinguished by its variety of architectural styles spanning from ca. 1902 to ca. 1940. The neighborhood's variety and concentration of architectural styles from the early 20th century has no counterpart in the city.

† Adapted from: Lynn David, Thomason and Associates, Alumni-Latham-Mooreland Historic District, Christian County, KY, nomination document, 1992, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Alumni-Latham-Mooreland Historic District Map

Street Names
Alumni Avenue • Latham Avenue • Mooreland Drive

**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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