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Broadmoor Place Historic District

Gulfport City, Harrison County, MS

The Broadmoor Place Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]

The Broadmoor Place Historic District is located about nine-and-a-half blocks northeast of downtown Gulfport, Mississippi.

Broadmoor Place is a locally unique designed neighborhood for its time period and location. The neighborhood was designed around a circular drive concept. The circular drive is accessed by a north-south, two-lane boulevard named Broadmoor Place which features a median of landscaped trees. Broadmoor Place forks at the center of the historic district to form a green space island where a tennis court and playground are located. The boulevard then reconverges beyond the green space. The semicircular Oak Place on the west and Magnolia Place on the east bracket the Broadmoor Place lots. Other streets in the historic district are in a grid pattern, creating four triangular islands at their intersection with the circle. According to the original plat of Broadmoor Place, the lots were designed in a uniform size and shape except those along the curves of the circular boulevard, which are wedge-shaped and, therefore, have smaller front yards and larger backyards. Most houses are situated in the middle of their lots. There are sidewalks and mature vegetation throughout the neighborhood.

The Broadmoor Place subdivision was platted as a garden suburb for white residents in 1925 by the Mississippi Coast Realty Company. The structures are a collection of house styles and types representative of Gulfport's early-to-mid twentieth century development (1922-1965). The period of significance for the historic district is between 1922, the construction date of the oldest house in the historic district, and 1965, by which time most of the available lots had been developed.

The establishment of new residential subdivisions in Gulfport came about due to the population increase along with the real estate boom in the 1920s. National trends of laying out new transportation routes prompted the outward movement of suburban development. Coupled with the acquisition of farmland near towns and cities, neighborhoods of various sizes were being planned and developed. New subdivisions, which for the most part expanded as adjacent parcels of land were subdivided and the existing street grid spread outward, were being designed as residential landscapes, combining the open space, fresh air, and greenery of outlying areas with an efficient layout of houses. This trend is evident in the layout of Broadmoor Place, with a formal grid of streets with a central curvilinear drive divided in half by a wide, tree-lined, median-boulevard (Broadmoor Place). Broadmoor Place was developed similar to other contemporary garden suburbs around the country during the mid-twentieth century.

Until the early-twentieth century, most subdivisions were relatively small and were generally planned and designed as a single development. Developers were required to file a plat, or general development plan, with the local government indicating their plans for improving the land with streets and utilities. The Broadmoor Place subdivision was platted in 1925 and consisted of about 600 lots. The Mississippi Coast Realty Company developed the neighborhood; however, other realtors in the area were able to sell lots in the subdivision and the subdivision was owned by the South Coast Realty Company.

One of the first advertisements for the subdivision was in September of 1925. According to this ad, the lots were priced from $300.00 and up with a down payment of 20 percent and 5 percent monthly. Like most planned neighborhoods of the period, Broadmoor Place was to be a segregated neighborhood in which only white people could reside. At the time of its development, it was reported that the neighborhood would be larger than most subdivisions on the market in the south. The subdivision was developed with water, gas, lights, surfaced streets, and concrete sidewalks already constructed when lots were put on sale.

The creation of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in 1934 did much to change the look of Gulfport. The FHA offered a system of insured mortgages to promote home ownership during the Depression. Houses were required to meet minimum standards, and frequently were based on the standard plans developed by the FHA. With the introduction of new FHA programs, developers continued to examine the use of deed restrictions in designing attractive neighborhoods of moderately priced homes. The Urban Land Institute's Community Builder's Handbook, first published in 1947, encouraged such restrictions, even to the extent of establishing design review committees.

Broadmoor Place Historic District is important as a professional class suburb, where many of the residents held high ranking positions in Gulfport businesses and industries. Other residents were associated with government service, including the United States Air Force and the Veterans Hospital. The historic district represents a residential neighborhood that developed in close proximity to Gulfport's major industries during the early- and mid-twentieth centuries. The residents of the district, many of whom were employed in these industries, depended upon the success or failure of the local port.

Examples of houses that represent business owners include the dwelling at 2326 Kelly Avenue (1928), built under the ownership of Joseph and Mary Richard for $4,500. Mr. Richard was the owner of Brownie Golf Course and president of Gulf Coast Music Company. The first owners of 2320 Pine Avenue (1943) were Erick S. and Kathleen R. Simmons. Mr. Simmons was the owner of Simmons Service a "complete accounting, tax or stenographic service organization especially for the small business concern. The dwelling at 2319 Kelly Avenue (1927-1929) was constructed for Edgar and Helen Wedding who lived in the house until Mr. Wedding's death in 1960. Mr. Wedding owned the Wedding Bakery from 1917-1958. The house at 2306 Broadmoor Place (1941) was constructed under the ownership of Philip J. and Attice DeNicola. Mr. DeNicola was a baker and owned Phil's Bake Shoppe. The DeNicola family resided in this house for over 50 years.

Other houses that were associated with business managers and owners include the dwelling at 2305 Magnolia Place (1940-1950) was likely constructed for Francis M. and Pauline Dobbs. Mr. Dobbs was the district manager of Life Insurance Company of Georgia and Mrs. Dobbs worked at Herd's Style Shop. During the early 1950s, the Dobbs lived at another house located within Broadmoor Place. However, by 1955, they had moved to 2308 Magnolia Place (1925-1929) and made it their residence. The house at 2312 Kelly Avenue (1925-1927) was occupied by longtime resident and owner Jack T. Simmons, a local businessman. Mr. Simmons was president of Port Cities Inc., a Gulfport subdivision development; president of Simmons Restaurants, Inc. and co-owner of Simmons Park & Eat Restaurants, both in Gulfport. He was also a member of multiple cultural and charitable organizations and on the board of many civic committees and associations. The dwelling at 2216 East Avenue (1926) was purchased by John A. and Laura Parker in 1946. Mr. Parker served as the president, secretary, and treasurer of Gulfport Fertilizer Company, and president of Gulfport Port Commission.

Many real estate agents also lived in or owned properties in the neighborhood, and used the dwellings as both private residences and rental properties. One such example is 2204 Broadmoor Place (1950), the home of William and Judith Hartwell. Mr. Hartwell was president and treasurer of Will C. Hartwell Realty and Insurance Co. Inc. Another example is 2323 Pine Avenue (1947), which was likely constructed for M.J. Agur, a realtor, and used as a rental property during his ownership of the property. The house at 2401 Kelly Avenue (1926) was likely constructed for George E. and Minnie E. Strevey. Mr. Strevey worked at the real estate firm of Strevey, Kerr and Kerr. Carl and Tommy Alfonso resided at 2207 Cypress Avenue (1947-1949) for a number of years. By 1960, Mr. and Mrs. Alfonso were sales managers at Cheney Realty & Insurance Company. They later established Alfonso Realty and later included their daughter, Carlene, in the business. The company is still in operation today and is the "largest real estate company on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The house remained in the Alfonso family until 1992.

Some houses were used as rentals, reflecting the housing shortage during the World War II and post-World War II eras. Many houses served as both rental properties and owner occupied dwellings during the historical period. Bertie Boyle of 2201 Kelly Avenue (1927-1929) was a widow who worked as a clerk and rented out rooms in her home during the post-World War II housing shortage. Other examples include 2235 Cypress (1945), 920 25th Street (1925-1928), 2320 East Avenue (1925-1927), 1002 22nd Street (1925-1929).

A number of renters and home owners who lived in Broadmoor Place were associated with the military or related industries such as the Veterans Hospital. Others held service jobs such as salesman, accountant, insurance agent, and foreman. Other neighborhood residents were professionals such attorneys and dentists.

Homes belonging to residents working in government service included the one belonging to Harmon R. Johnston and his wife Alma at 2216 Kelly Avenue (1926). Mr. Johnston was an entomologist for the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service Laboratory in Gulfport, and was head of the Forest Insect Laboratory. He was a world renowned expert in insect control in wood products and discovered and developed "a formula for preventing ambrosia beetles and borers from infesting stored logs and lumber." The Johnston family resided in the house for over 30 years. The house at 2405 Cypress Avenue (1954) was likely constructed under the ownership of C. LeVert Dowdle and his wife, Yona, during the post-World War II era building boom. Mr. Dowdle, the manager of the Gulfport Center of the Mississippi Employment Service, was instrumental in initiating the Job Development Program in Mississippi and was nationally recognized for his efforts in the placement of one disabled veteran. R. Mansell Hill, the district supervisor for the State Tax Commission, and his wife, Jeanette, owned and occupied 2401 East Avenue (1925-1929). Mr. Hill was assigned to the six Gulf Coast counties of Mississippi in 1934 to enforce the Emergency Tax Act (1932) which implemented the first sales tax in the state. He held this position until his retirement in 1971. The Hill family owned the house until 2005.

The architecture of the Broadmoor Place Historic District is locally significant as a cohesive group of houses that represent styles and types that were popular from the 1920s through the 1950s. There are excellent examples of particular styles or types; overall, however, the district draws its significance mainly for its consistent middle-class architecture. The cohesive nature of dwelling size, lot configuration, and intermixing of styles from different architectural eras unifies the historic district. The Broadmoor Place Historic District is an intact, contiguous historic residential area in Gulfport and is the larger of only two early-twentieth century garden suburbs in Gulfport. The other is the proposed Gulf Gardens Historic District, also in Gulfport.

Improving the quality of American homes and domestic life became a priority following World War I. Architects, developers, builders, and manufacturers, along with public officials and social reformers on the national and local levels, encouraged consistent building techniques, home ownership, and neighborhood improvements. Organizations such as Better Homes in America, Inc. (founded in 1922), the Small House Architects' Service Bureau (founded in 1919), and the Home Owners Service Institute, were educating homeowners about quality design and construction. They held weekly activities, such as model home demonstrations and 'Better Homes Week' activities, as well as national competitions to encourage popular tastes in small house designs and raise the variety and quality of American homes. Societies such as these released periodicals like The Small House, or plan catalogues like Small Homes of Architectural Distinction, through which home builders could order complete working drawings. Popular magazines, such as Better Homes and Gardens, American Home, House and Garden, Garden and Home Builder, McCall's, and Sunset, contained articles on topics that included new house designs and plans, decoration, and landscaping. These magazines also contained advertisements for the most up-to-date mass-produced products.

The small house of the 1920s appeared in a variety of forms and styles consisting of Bungalows and revival styles, such as the Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival. The small house also appeared in styles that were heavily influenced by the Spanish, English, French, and Dutch, which ultimately resulted in a great diversity of architectural styles and types nationally and locally. The Craftsman Bungalow, Minimal Traditional, and Ranch are well represented in Broadmoor Place, emphasizing their popularity during the period of significance.

As a result of the standardized plans and minimum standards promoted by the FHA, Minimal Traditional and Ranch houses, which offered modern floor plans and conveniences that were also promoted by FHA, began to appear. These simply styled, one-story houses, equipped to accommodate the latest in modern design and conveniences, eased the acute housing shortage which worsened as World War II approached and Gulfport became an integral part of the military preparations.

The early development of the Broadmoor Place Historic District coincided with the national popularity of house styles based on a broad variety of influences, from Medieval Europe to the early settlement of North America. The widespread distribution of magazines and books featuring so called "period" houses, as well as advancements in building materials, combined to create an eclectic movement that stressed "relatively pure copies of domestic architecture as originally built in various European countries and their New World colonies." The Colonial Revival style was based on early English and Dutch houses built on the eastern seaboard. Although the Colonial Revival style was "the dominant style for domestic buildings in the country during the first half of the twentieth century," there is only one (late) example of the style in the district, the Broadmoor Baptist Church, historically identified as the East-Side Baptist Church (1951).

The Broadmoor Place Historic District developed as an early-twentieth century garden suburb, made up of middle class families, some of whom continued to live there for generations. As the district developed, it retained this socioeconomic class which had strong ties to the growing Gulfport industries, particularly private business, as well as the military and specialized industries. The buildings of the historic district, mostly residences, represent important regional styles and types of architecture including Minimal Traditional, Craftsman and Craftsman Vernacular, and Ranch styles.

‡ Xana Pertola and Laura Thayer, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Broadmoor Place Historic District, Harrison County, MS, nomination document, 2015, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
22nd Street • 23rd Street • 24th Street • 25th Street • Broadmoor Place • Cypress Avenue • East Avenue • Kelly Avenue • Magnolia Place • Oak Place • Pine Avenue