Hobo Hill Historic District
The Hobo Hill Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2016, The Gombach Group.
The buildings in the Hobo Hill Historic District were constructed between 1908 and 1916, which represents the period of significance for the district. The most outstanding feature of the district is its dramatic change in topography, making the houses on Jackson Street appear as if they are hanging onto the side of the hill. The topography of the district is significant to the neighborhood's development and its relation to surrounding neighborhoods, which are both a function of this location on a steep hill. The district is fully developed, with little open space within its boundaries.
The district is residential in character, with Jefferson City's first public high school located across the street (now Simonsen 9th Grade Center). By 1900, many of the most desirable and most easily developed platted lots in the city had been developed, and most of the remaining lots were developed by 1920. For example, in the Capitol Avenue Historic District, many of the corner lots were developed prior to 1900, with 49 houses built prior to 1900.
The district reflects several architectural styles popular at the time of development. Examples of several architectural styles popular during the late 19th and early 20th Century are found in the district, including three Foursquare type houses, one excellent example of the Craftsman Bungalow style, one Tudor Revival style house, one Colonial Revival style house, one Folk Victorian house (non-contributing) and one outbuilding. The period of significance, 1908 to 1916, encompasses the period when the area developed into a neighborhood of middle and upper class houses adjacent to the new public high school.
The Hobo Hill Historic District represents a period of Jefferson City's development that saw the first steps of suburbanization—as original platted lots were filled and the automobile made development further from the city center possible. In the period from 1908 to 1945, automobiles changed development patterns throughout the country. Automobiles started arriving in Jefferson City in 1900, when Theodore Tanner completed the city's first automobile following three years of work in the Tanner Brothers' machine shop on Jefferson Street. According to Federal Highway Administration statistics, 8,000 automobiles were in operation nationwide in 1900..
The houses in the Hobo Hill Historic District are cut off from any surrounding buildings except for the school across East Miller Street. A parking lot and track, practice football field for the school bound the neighborhood on the east and northwest, a depressed highway defines the south side, and Wear's Creek is located on the west. The neighborhood has always been somewhat removed from nearby residential areas. A Sanborn Map of 1939 shows the district and its surroundings east of Jackson Street. In the half block south of the houses facing East Miller Street, is a home on a very large lot (larger than three lots in the Hobo Hill district. South of this house, where a street would normally be located, is the second home built in 1913 for Hugh Stephens on multiple lots (listed in the National Register as the Hugh and Bessie Stephens House). Three vacant lots, believed to be associated with Stephens' house, are located between the house and an alley.
While the automobile may have been more important than the street car to the development of the Hobo Hill neighborhood, the street car did provide access to and assist development of the Fairmount/Moreau Drive neighborhood (Wagoner Place and Fairmount Place subdivisions). The Moreau Drive neighborhood's first subdivision was ready for development by 1912, approximately the same time period as development in the Hobo Hill neighborhood. Another historic neighborhood of that period is the West Main/Boonville Road/Hayselton neighborhood. This neighborhood was developed much later than the Hobo Hill neighborhood, as West School was not completed until 1939. West Main was still shown as Ten Mile Drive west of Boonville Road, and the south side of this street was not in the city limits in 1939.
† Jane Rodes Beetem, Historic Preservation Consultant, Hobo Hill Historic District, Cole County, Missouri, nomination document, 2012, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.