Anthony Wayne was one of George Washington’s ablest lieutenants during the Revolutionary War, distinguishing himself on the field at Germantown, Monmouth, Stony Point and elsewhere. During the desperate days at Valley Forge, Wayne took on the dangerous mission of foraging for cattle and supplies in British-held New Jersey and eventually drove some 150 head of beef cattle across the Delaware River to fortify the starving troops in what was dubbed “The Great Cow Chase.” By the end of the war Anthony Wayne was a major general.
He entered politics in the new republic but his old commander President Washington called Wayne out of civilian life in order to lead an expedition in the Northwest Indian War, which up to that point had been a disaster for the United States. Any more embarrassing defeats in the West might embolden the British to move against the new America and reclaim its lost lands. After negotiations with Chief Little Turtle, war chief of the Miami Indians, failed Anthony’s army attacked at Fallen Timbers, south of Toledo, on August 20, 1794. In an hour the Americans had routed the Miamis. The Americans moved south and constructed a fort where the St. Joseph River and the St. Marys River join to form the Maumee River and on October 22, 1794 named the position Fort Wayne.
Wayne was in charge of operations in the Northwest and negotiated the Treaty of Greenville that gave most of modern-day Ohio to the United States. In 1796, after an inspection tour of frontier posts the general died of complications from gout when he was only 51 years old. A score of villages, towns and cities would be named for Anthony Wayne, more than a dozen counties, a river, a national forest and even Batman’s stately Wayne Manor.
Fort Wayne rose to prominence with the completion of the Wabash & Erie Canal, at 460 miles the longest canal ever dug in the United States. Fort Wayne is located at an old portage between the Maumee River and the Wabash River. Here, the canal crossed 5 miles to the Little Wabash River and headed downstream through Indiana. Since this was the highest point on the canal, Fort Wayne became known as the “Summit City.” The canal began operation in 1843 but it was obsolete almost before its completion. While it did not bring great wealth to Fort Wayne it did establish the town as an important center of trade that attracted the railroads. In the first decade of railroad building in the 1850s the population hopped from 4,282 to 10,388.
With the railroads came industry and the town’s population jumped by about 35% every decade for seventy years. Railroad car wheels, washing machines, mining machinery, lumber products and copper wire all poured out of Fort Wayne. In 1891 the Wayne Knitting Mills opened to produce the first full-fashioned hosiery in the United States. Sylvanus F. Bowser manufactured self-measuring oil tanks here and the city cranked out most of America’s filling station equipment. General Electric, Magnavox, Westinghouse and International Harvester were all iconic employers in Fort Wayne.
Fort Wayne was a prototypical Rust Belt manufacturing city. But the city’s economy diversified with the times and never experienced a crushing decline like its northern neighbors. Save for a small blip in the 1970s the population has never stopped expanding. As a result the Fort Wayne streetscape has seen a steady turnover of buildings that has stripped the town of many of its heritage downtown structures but our walking tour will begin in the shadow of two of its most glorious survivors...
Allen County Courthouse
715 South Calhoun Street
This National Historic Landmark is the most notable work of Brentwood S. Tolan, a marble craftsman-turned architect in Fort Wayne. Tolan was well-known around the Great Lakes area for designing municipal and local government buildings, including courthouses and jails. Construction on Tolan’s Beaux Arts masterwork kicked off in 1897 using Bedford blue stone and Vermont granite with Italian marble details. The structure was dedicated in 1902 after a final expenditure of $817,553.59. Crowning the composition is a 255-foot-high copper-clad domed rotunda, itself topped by a 14-foot statue wind vane of Lady Liberty.
LOOMING OVER THE CAPITOL, THE TOWER TO THE SOUTH IS...
Lincoln Bank Tower
116 East Berry Street
After the outbreak of World War I, American communities with deep German roots scrambled to disassociate themselves with anything Germany. In Fort Wayne the German American National Bank, founded in 1905, adopted the name of the 16th President. Come 1928 the bank went looking for a symbol of its strength in the community and set out to build Indiana’s tallest building. Local architect Alvin M. Strauss patterned his 312-foot Art Deco tower after the groundbreaking Tribune Tower in Chicago with setbacks as the building steps up 22 stories. Ground was broken on August 16, 1929 and despite the stock market collapse two months later construction continued on the $1.3 million structure. Strauss used Indiana limestone and granite with a reported 500 tons of marble in the construction. Seven bronze panels at the main entrance depict scenes from the life of President Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Bank Tower reigned as Indiana sky king until 1962 and was the town’s tallest building until 1970.
ACROSS CLINTON STREET FROM THE COURTHOUSE IS...
701 South Clinton Street
The first newspaper, a four-page broadsheet, appeared on Fort Wayne streets in 1833. Community leaders recruited two Indianapolis newspapermen, Thomas Tigar and S.V.B. Noel, to start the town newspaper and they hauled a hand press up from the capital to print the Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel. Over the years competitors emerged, including the Daily Gazette in 1863 and the Fort Wayne Journal in 1968. After a flurry of mergers two competing newspapers emerged in the 20th century - the News-Sentinel and the Journal Gazette. In 1950 the papers began a joint operating agreement that merged all non-news gathering activities under the banner of Fort Wayne Newspapers, a unique arrangement that continues to make Fort Wayne a rare two-newspaper town. This building for the Journal-Gazette was constructed in 1928.
WALK OVER TO THE SOUTHEAST CORNER OF COURTHOUSE PLAZA AT BERRY STREET AND TURN LEFT, HEADING NORTH.
Anthony Wayne Building
201 East Berry Street at northeast corner of Clinton street
This 14-story modernist building from 1961 boasts horizontal bands of windows are separated by a wide, protruding concrete ledge on all floors. Originally the home of Anthony Wayne Bank, it has suffered stretches of vacancy and awaits conversion into condominiums and retail space.
215 East Berry Street
John F. Wing and Marshall S. Mahurin teamed up in 1882 and became the town’s premier architects for a quarter-century. For this low-rise commercial building in 1895 Wing and Mahurin tapped Romanesque and Neoclassical themes. The moneyman for the project was Ronald T. McDonald, a founder of the Jenney Electric Light Company. In its early days the building served as the Allen County Courthouse and the Allen County Public Library. In 1912, the seven-year-old Lincoln National Life Insurance Company purchased the building as its new headquarters, which it occupied until 1923 when a new Lincoln National Life building was completed on Harrison Street.
The City Building
308 East Berry Street at southeast corner of Barr Street
This is another creation of John S. Wing and Marshall S. Mahurin, built in 1893 as the town hall. Sandstone was used to execute the monumental Richardsonian Romanesque style, based on the work of Boston designer Henry Hobson Richardson, the most influential American architect of the post-Civil War era. Hallmarks of the style seen here include powerful arches, broad gables and corner turrets. The city government remained here until 1971 and since 1980 it has been the home of the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society which operates The History Center here.
TURN RIGHT ON BARR STREET. TURN RIGHT ON WASHINGTON STREET.
216 East Washington Street
In the 1920s this block was filled with two grand buildings - the Scottish Rite Cathedral in 1924 and the Masonic Temple in 1926. Linked by a causeway the facilities could accommodate 3,000 people for a banquet or a show. The Scottish Rite Cathedral was razed in the 1960s leaving the block to the ten-story Neoclassical Freemason’s Hall, designed by Charles A. Weatherhogg. The building boasts four separate lodge rooms, all identical in size although decorated differently. They are the Corinthian Room, Ionic Room, Egyptian Room and Colonial Room. They are still the largest lodge rooms in the state of Indiana.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO BARR STREET AND TURN RIGHT, CONTINUING EAST.
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
1126 South Barr Street at northwest corner of Lewis Street
This ground has belonged to the St. Paul’s congregation, the second oldest Lutheran organization in Indiana, since 1839. The current Gothic sanctuary was dedicated on September 15, 1889. This is another collaboration from the partnership of John F. Wing and Marshall S. Mahurin.
TURN RIGHT ON LEWIS STREET. TURN RIGHT ON CALHOU STREET.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Cathedral Square, bounded by Jefferson Boulevard and Calhoun Street, Lewis Street and Clinton streets
The cornerstone for this meetinghouse, said to be the oldest church structure in continuous use in Fort Wayne, was laid on June 19, 1859. The congregation purchased a large chunk of this square in 1831 for $100 and the first structure, called St. Augustine’s, was built here in 1837. Reverend Julian Benoit, a French-born priest, spearheaded the construction of the cathedral and served as co-architect with Thomas Lau. Originally made of red brick trimmed with gray sandstone, the building, without furnishings, cost $54,000. Now dressed in stucco, the building is a member of the National Register of Historic Places.
Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
1100 South Calhoun Street at southwest corner of Jefferson Boulevard
Opened in 1983, the indoor conservatory displays over 1,200 plants of 502 differing species. Included are a seasonal showcase garden, tropical garden and desert garden.
TURN LEFT ON JEFFERSON BOULEVARD.
Embassy Theatre and Indiana Hotel
121 West Jefferson Boulevard
The doors to the spectacular Emboyd Theater opened on May 14, 1928 after $1.5 million of Clyde Quimby’s money was spent. Quimby contracted the names of his mother Emaline Boyd Quimby for his movie palace and vaudeville house. The Emboyd came complete with the seven-story, 150-room Indiana Hotel wrapped around the north and west sides of the theatre. A.M. Strauss was the designer in consultation with theater architect John Eberson, America’s leading practitioner of the “atmospheric theater” that transported patrons to exotic locales for an evening. The Emboyd featured a Spanish Eclectic theme, decked out in shades of marble. All the biggest stars of the day trod the boards at the Emboyd; Bob Hope got his first emcee gig here. Following a typical arc of downtown American theaters the Emboyd, which became the Embassy in 1952, transformed into a a movie house and then declined with suburban flight and television and was days away from the wrecking ball in 1972 when it was saved by a community coalition. Through energetic renovations and improvements, the Embassy Theatre has maintained the historic integrity of the building that is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Grand Wayne Center
120 West Jefferson Boulevard
Fort Wayne’s convention center was erected in 1985 and expanded two decades later to encompass 225,000 square feet of exhibition space. The Grand Wayne Center’s north and south façades feature 1,830 floor-to-ceiling exterior windowpanes with two exterior waterfalls.
1301 Ewing Street at southeast corner of Jefferson Boulevard
Fort Wayne has consistently been ranked as one of the best minor league sports cities in America.Professional baseball was first played in town in 1871 when the Fort Wayne Kekoingas took the field on May 4 against the Cleveland Forest Citys. The Fort Wayne Daisies were a mainstay of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, while the Fort Wayne Colored Giants were a semi-pro team in the 1920s. This $31 million home for the Fort Wayne TinCaps was constructed in 2009. Unlike most ballparks the doors of Parkview Field are open all day long.
TURN RIGHT ON WEBSTER STREET.
Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza at Washington Boulevard and Webster Street
The first books were lent in Fort Wayne in 1895 out of a room in City Hall. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who funded some 2,500 libraries around the world, provided the money for the town’s first dedicated library building in 1904. This 173,500-square-foot building was opened in 1968. This century brought about an $84 million expansion.
TURN RIGHT ON WASHINGTON BOULEVARD.
Engine House No. 3
226 West Washington Boulevard
Fires in Fort Wayne were handled by volunteers from 1839 until 1882. With a new professional force three fire houses were built around town at the same time, all featuring a similar Romanesque style. Engine House #3 was completed in 1893 with only two bays. The station housed six men, fur horses, a hose wagon and a chemical wagon. When it doubled in size in 1907, which came along with a bell tower, Engine House #3 became the town’s largest firehouse. The fire station was but out of service in 1972 with the completion of a new modern central station on East Main Street. It now houses a firefighter’s museum.
Fort Wayne Printing Company Building
114 West Washington Boulevard
This is the only known building extant in Fort Wayne of local architect Ralph B. Snyder, who tapped the Neoclassical style for this nine-bay brick building in 1911. The structure began life as the home of the Fort Wayne Printing Company but since 1927 has done duty as a recreational hall, warehouse, clothing store, and more.
926-930 South Calhoun Street at southwest corner of Washington Boulevard
Charles Schmitz sailed from Germany in 1837 and settled in Fort Wayne, becoming one of the town’s first physicians. The Schmitz family bought this property and built their homestead here in 1840. Through the years the corner was subdivided for rental property and storefronts. After Schmitz died in 1887 his widow Henrietta hired Frank B. Kendrick to construct this commercial block as a memorial. Kendrick delivered a modified Richardsonian Romanesque, four-story building crafted of rough-faced limestone. Look up to see carved stonework and groups of smooth colonettes emblematic of the style.
TURN LEFT ON CALHOUN STREET.
914 South Calhoun Street
Sebastian Spering Kresge attempted to join Woolworth’s five-and-dime business in 1896 but was not successful. He entered into other retailing partnerships with $8000 he had carefully saved, working in stores in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Michigan. By 1899 he was on his own in Detroit. When he finally gave up his position as Chairman of the Board at the age of 98 the company had grown to include 670 Kresge variety stores, 150 K-Mart department stores and 110 Jupiter discount stores. The Fort Wayne store was constructed by Detroit architect Harold Holmes with a Spanish Revival flavor in 1926. Look up above the compromised storefront to see patterned brickwork and limestone gargoyles. Kresge sold the three-story building to Earl Groth in 1933 and his store operated here until 1961.
TURN LEFT ON WAYNE STREET.
Louis Mohr Block
119 West Wayne Street
Frank B. Kendrick was a Philadelphia-born and trained architect who settled in Fort Wayne in 1879. This Neoclassical commercial block was commissioned in 1891 by Louis Mohr who peddled durable goods such as sewing machines and bicycles. Skinned in limestone the upper stories retain their decorative flourishes, including a rooftop balustrade.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO CALHOUN STREET AND TURN LEFT. WALK ONE BLOCK TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE.