When Henry D. Huff re-platted Winona in 1853, he expanded the original plat to include what is now the Windom Park neighborhood. He also designated a square block to be used for a park in the present location of Windom Park.1 Shortly thereafter, the city was divided into three electoral wards: First Ward was everything west of Washington Street, Second Ward was between Washington and Lafayette Streets, and Third Ward was everything east of Lafayette.2 Given its location, Windom Park was initially known as First Ward Park and it was bounded by West 5th Street, Huff Street, West Broadway Street, and Harriet Street. In 1880, most of the First Ward housed working class families, with the exception of the large mansions on the eastern edge of the First Ward and surrounding Windom Park, which were constructed and owned by early industrialists. These lots were significantly larger than those of their working-class neighbors.3 Mansions continued to be constructed around Windom Park until around 1900. Many of the early homeowners in Windom Park had come to Winona from New England, presumably with wealth, which enabled them to establish the city's first industries and businesses and increase their capital.4 The prosperous years of the 1880s and 1890s sustained them well after the demise of the lumber industry.
Henry D. Huff constructed the first mansion along Huff Street between West 4th and West 5th Streets in 1857. Moses C. Varney's house across the park at 327 West Broadway was likely completed by 1860. An 1867 bird's eye view of Winona includes Huff's mansion with its prominent tower. It also depicts steady development of two-story homes on the east side of Huff Street between West 5th and West Broadway Streets and on the south side of West Broadway Street from Winona to Harriet Streets, and some development of one- and two-story homes on West 5th Street between Wilson and Harriet Streets. The remainder of the neighborhood was undeveloped.5 William Windom's home was likely built by 1870 on the present site of the Abner F. Hodgins House at 275 Harriet Street. The 1870s saw the construction of Varney's neighbor William M. Hurlbert's house at 323 West Broadway Street (ca. 1870) and three houses along West 5th Street: Hermon E. Curtis' house at 375 West 5th Street (ca. 1870), Hannibal Choate's house at 263 West 5th Street (ca. 1876), and William S. Drew's house at 276 West 5th Street (ca. 1877). The 1880s added Franklin A. Rising's house at 351 West Broadway Street (ca. 1880), Jerome G. Swart's house at 315 West Broadway Street (ca. 1880), James C. Blake's house at 365 West 5th Street (ca. 1884), Peter Hallenbeck's house at 376 West 5th Street (ca. 1885), Frederick S. Bell's house at 255 Harriet Street (ca. 1887), and Hodgins' complete remodeling of Windom's house at 275 Harriet Street (ca. 1889). By 1889, W.H. Laird had built his house at 359 West 4th Street (non-extant), as had Matthew G. Norton at 254 West 5th Street (non-extant) and John R. Marfield at 332 West 5th Street (non-extant).
The 1894 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps confirm considerable development was undertaken during the previous decade. By 1894, Verrazano Simpson had also built his house at 257 West Broadway Street (non-extant). Additionally, the houses on the east side of Huff Street between West 5th and West Broadway Streets had been demolished, leaving open land adjacent to Hannibal Choate's estate.8 In 1898, Harry S. Youmans built his house at 328 West 5th Street, followed by Eben M. Roberts' house at 265 West Broadway Street (ca. 1900). Three other houses were built in 1900: Herbert C. Garvin's house at 301 West Broadway Street, Samuel L. Prentiss' house at 369 West Broadway Street, and John R. Mitchell's house at 275 West Broadway Street. All three of these houses replaced earlier buildings. In 1912, Charles M. Youmans demolished his father's 1866 house and built a new house at 227 Wilson Street). Hermon E. Curtis' son, Benjamin, built a house c. 1914 next door to his father's original house at 262 Wilson Street.
About one-third of the houses in this district remained in the ownership of the original family for several decades. About half of the houses turned over to new owners within the first 10-20 years. For those that did turn over, the second generation of owners and, in many cases their children, remained in their homes for several subsequent decades. In the late 1910s, two large homes in the neighborhood were demolished: W.H. Laird's house at 359 West 4th Street and John R. Marfield's house at 332 West 5th Street.10 In the 1930s and 1940s, several homes were given to the Diocese of Winona for office or residential use. Similarly, John W. Lucas' children donated two family residences, one at 276 West 5th Street and the other at 369 West Broadway, to Winona Teacher's College for use as dormitories. The 1940s saw the loss of two major homes. First, the Matthew G. Norton house at 254 West 5th Street was demolished for a new YMCA. Secondly, the house at 257 West Broadway Street originally belonging to wealthy pioneer Verrazano Simpson, who lived there until his death in 1906, was redeveloped c. 1948 into a pair of brick ramblers with a duplex behind. In the 1960s, a lot of housing in Winona began to be converted into student housing and rental properties, including some of the houses around Windom Park. The Diocese of Winona took over the Huff-Lamberton House for two decades before it was turned into a senior care facility in the 1980s and now as apartments. In the 1980s, the east side of Huff Street between West 5th and West Broadway Streets was improved upon. Finally, in 1993, the We-no-nah Statue was installed in a new fountain in the center of Windom Park.
The Windom Park Residential Historic District is significant in the area of Social History as the chosen residential area for Winona's prominent early settlers; first- and second-generation commercial and industrial leaders; and members of Winona's upper class; in the area of Architecture as a collection of late 1800s and early 1900s high architectural style mansions. As Winona developed into a significant river port and lumbering and manufacturing center, most of the individuals who shaped this local economy chose to construct elegant homes in the vicinity of First Ward Park (later Windom Park), not far from the city's commercial and industrial center. These large, high style homes reflected the owners' wealth and prominence. These individuals participated in an elite social circle. Some original owners lived in their homes until their deaths and often passed their homes onto their children. Shorter-term owners often sold their homes to business associates. Families became further connected through marriages between their children. Architecturally, the homes reflect the predominant national trends at the time they were built. The district retains much of its original layout, with only two later homes built around 1940 and late development on the east side of Huff Street between West 5th and West Broadway Streets in the 1980s. The period of significance is from 1857, when the first mansion was built, to 1938 prior to the construction of 352 and 356 West 5th Street on land that was historically part of W.H. Laird's estate. As of 1938, several homes were still owned by their original owners or immediate descendants, and most homes were owned by the second generation of prominent Winona residents or their immediate descendants. This period of significance also encompasses the construction of the houses within the district that include good local and some exceptional statewide examples of high architectural styles.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, upper-class neighborhoods emerged in various cities throughout Minnesota. Comparable examples to Windom Park include the Irvine Park and Historic Hill neighborhoods in St. Paul, the Washburn-Fair Oaks Mansion District in Minneapolis, the Pill Hill neighborhood in Rochester, and the West 2nd Street neighborhood in Hastings, all of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Such neighborhoods were typically established by prominent, wealthy residents who were instrumental in the founding and/or development of their respective cities. The neighborhoods are sited away from the central business core where there was more space. The Irvine Park residences surround a central green space while the Historic Hill neighborhood features wide boulevards as well as triangular corner parks. These neighborhoods are comprised of large houses that were designed in prevailing architectural styles of the era and often by known architects. Their grand residences conveyed the owners' status, influence, and wealth within the community.
The Windom Park Residential Historic District is significant at the local level in the area of Social History for its long-term association with prominent Winona residents. This was the preferred neighborhood for upper class Winonans for many decades. As pioneer settlers to Winona established their industries and businesses and gained capital, they began constructing elaborate homes around First Ward Park (now Windom Park) to showcase their wealth. Some of the buildings were new constructions on previously undeveloped land, others replaced smaller, simpler houses. The earliest mansion was built in 1857 and the most prolific period of construction was from 1880 to 1900, which coincided with the peak of the lumbering industry. For many decades, the homes in Windom Park were built and owned by upper class Winonans who helped develop and build the town and ensure its economic success. They included lumber executives, bank officers and directors, leading merchants and wholesalers, and prominent lawyers, and their wives and families. Their children often inherited the homes and/or married each other, maintaining their closely connected social circle. Some owners sold their homes to business associates, often coinciding with the new buyers' rising success. Descendants of several original owners or second-generation owners remained in their familial homes into the 1960s and early 1970s.
The Windom Park Residential Historic District is also significant in the area of Architecture as a collection of late 1800s and early 1900s high architectural style mansions. The property owners followed prevailing architectural trends in the design of their new mansions. As a result, this district includes many good and some exceptional examples of the Italian Villa, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles. Many of the examples retain their original intricate details, such as decorated bargeboard, scrolled brackets, column capitals, and varied shingle patterns. Many of the homes also retain porte-cocheres and carriage houses, signaling their construction in the late 1800s and early 1900s before the automobile age. The last substantial mansion in the neighborhood that reflects a high architectural style was completed in 1912. After this point, there were few changes to the district. Two houses were built around 1940 on land previously part of W.H. Laird's estate and the east side of Huff Street between West 5th and West Broadway Streets was developed in the 1980s with four attached townhomes and the relocation of a c. 1950 Colonial Revival house. Otherwise, the district remains intact and conveys a high degree of integrity.
The period of significance begins in 1857 with the construction of the Huff-Lamberton House and ends in 1938 prior to the redevelopment of W.H. Laird's estate, which covers the construction of all buildings in the district that are good representations of high architectural styles. The Windom Park Residential Historic District was evaluated within the "Winona Historic Contexts" and "The Broadway Community and Winona's Urban Development, 1852-1960" historic context which have been previously established.
† Erin Que, Sr. Architectural Historian, with Saleh Miller, editor, nomonation document, 2021, Windom Park Residential Historic District, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C. Accessed October, 2021.
5th Street West • Harriet Street • Huff Street • West Broadway Street • Wilson Street