History of our Neighborhoods

Elkhart County’s historic neighborhoods tell rich stories about this area’s people, heritage and businesses. Following the arrival of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad shops in the 1860’s, the State-Division Street Historic District just east of Elkhart’s Main Street ranked as the city’s “first fashionable subdivision”. Today looking at Elkhart’s historic neighborhoods’ Italianate, Queen Anne, Four Square and Bungalow homes along with duplexes and flats, it’s easy to imagine the economically diverse population that settled here.

Before Europeans came to this area, a major Potawatomi trail traveled through Goshen’s Dickerson Landing Neighborhood that borders the east side of the Elkhart River. It’s one of the oldest areas in the city. Later the nation’s first transcontinental highway, the Lincoln Highway, ran through the neighborhood. You can still cross the historic Fort Wayne Street Bridge that spans the river. And downtown, the 1870 Elkhart County Courthouse anchors the Goshen Historic District.

In 1874 Nappanee entrepreneurs seized the dream of the village of Locke by luring the B&O Railroad to their town’s doorstep. Nappanee thrived; Locke did not. But Locke’s entrepreneurial spirit lived. Villagers moved three buildings via sled 2 ½ miles from their quiet town to booming Nappanee. Those same buildings still stand in the Downtown Nappanee Historic District as does the city’s refurbished railroad depot– a fitting monument to Nappanee’s victory.