Architecture and housing

The earliest homes in the area were farm houses of the landed gentry who owned the large tracts acquired in colonial times or following the sale of the Commons. When the immigrants began to settle in the area during the 1840's, they resided in row houses on "half" houses built on both streets and alleys. "Half" houses were built upon narrow lots perhaps with the intent of ultimately being joined by an adjacent mating structure. They were built with steep roofs pitched in one direction for quick drainage of rainwater.

These houses were generally brick with two stories and were built right up to the sidewalk line. Apparently the land owners were trying to get the maximum number of houses on the land, resulting in an abnormally high density of population among the laboring classes. The earlier houses followed simple Greek Revival design, while later examples built after 1850 featured more decorative elements such as wrought iron balconies, classic cornices and mansard roofs with intricate dormer windows.

After the Civil War some of the wealthier citizens erected free standing town houses some approaching mansion proportions. A notable example of this type of house is that erected in 1874 by Max J. Feuerbacher, proprietor of the Green Tree Brewery, on the southeast corner of State (now Twelfth) and Sidney Streets. It featured twin bay windows and had carved stone lions on either side of its front entrance. Another house of this type was built in 1876 by Doctor Franz Arzt at 2322 South Twelfth Street. It was way ahead of its time because of its built-in system of natural air conditioning which consisted of groups of flues with vents in floors and ceilings. This provided for efficient air circulation which created cool air currents in the house during the heat of summer. To achieve structural soundness and fire resistance, the house was reinforced with railroad and featured a hot water heating system. Dr. Arzt pursued his hobby of botany in a specially built greenhouse. Other mansions in the area were those of Thomas Allen, Julia C. Soulard and Benjamin J. Soulard Adam Lemp and Eberhard Anheuser.

Image - Photo of Dr. Franz Artz house on South 12th Street