135-year-old south Fort Wayne home hoping for historic designation from City Council Tuesday

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A home just south of downtown Fort Wayne is looking to be recognized by the city as historic.

The Diffenderfer House located on DeWald Street near Saint Patrick’s Church was built in 1886. The Queen Anne-style home was designed and built by prominent Fort Wayne architects John F. Wing and Marshall S. Mahurin.

The Diffenderfer House

“It’s historic for its architecture,” said historic preservation planner Creager Smith. “The architecture is rare and there are only a few scattered around.”

The Historic Preservation Commission works with property owners and districts to help maintain historic buildings. The group also helps register these properties on state and national historic registries.

What makes this home unique is its “unusual” red brick chimney that is centered at the front of the house. The chimney has a corbeled brick design with a circle between the first and second floors.

The home also features also has asymmetrical massing with a cross gable roof and a prominent gabled dormer on the façade. The extensive use of wood siding, shingle siding, and colors can also date back to the Victorian area when the house was built.

Back in June, the Historic Preservation Commission introduced a new resolution at a Fort Wayne City Council meeting that would designate the Diffenderfer House, on DeWald St. as a local historic home.

“This house is rated as an outstanding property meaning it eligible for the National Register for Historic Place or local historic designation,” said Historic preservation planner Creager Smith. “But it really was the brainchild of the current owner Yolande Black.”

Current owner Yolande Black declined to go on camera but gave WANE 15 a tour of her home. Yolande and her husband Steve have owned the home since 1976. Over the years the couple took joy in restoring historic elements of the home.

The framework of the rooms in the main portion of the home has not been changed over the year. Also still present is the original fireplace and doorbell both dating back to when the house was built in 1886.

Each room in the home had a different story, which Yolande shared with enthusiasm. Several times throughout the tour Yolande referred to the home as a ‘lovely ole lady,’ and a ‘good woman.’

With so many of the surrounding homes being turned into apartments, Yolande felt the need to submit the application to recognize her home’s architectural significance to the Historic Preservation Commission. She hopes that when it’s time to move on the next owners will take care of ‘her.’

The resolution will go back in front of the city council on Tuesday, July 6 for a public hearing. Smith hopes the resolution will be approved the following week and the house will officially be designated as historic.

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