LaPorte, French for “the door”, was established at the edge of the prairie in northern Indiana. The village was first platted in 1833 by five men who purchased 400 acres at the land sales office in Logansport. In that same year a government land office was established in LaPorte and with its establishment a number of pioneers and land speculators began to move through the community. LaPorte was chosen as the county seat of LaPorte County and the town was incorporated in 1835. City government was adopted for LaPorte in 1852 when the population reached 5,000; ten years later the population reached 8,000. The city’s streets were described as “wide and well shaded” with “long rows of dark green maples” and “groves and lakes and charming drives”.
By 1916 LaPorte was described as the “City of Maples” with a population of 15,000. Interurban lines had been developed by this time and connected “suburban retreats” with the downtown. The Lincoln Highway had been routed through the city in 1913 bringing motorists and a national channel for distributing the products manufactured by LaPorte’s leading industries. The growth and prosperity realized in the city’s manufacturing sector during the late 19th and early 20th centuries is witnessed by the grand and imposing homes constructed by their founders in the Indiana and Michigan Avenues Historic District. A substantial addition was created on the south side of the original plat of the city by Capt. A. P. Andrew Jr. where much of the housing in the northern part of the Indiana and Michigan Avenue neighborhoods was created. As additional plats followed, the boundaries of the city continued to push south. The size and styles of housing also changed from early mid nineteenth century homes, to more substantial brick and frame Queen Anne homes, to early 20th century styles as the city expanded. The houses at the far south end of the district are more modest and begin to fall into mid 20th century styles.
One area of particular interest was a small community unto itself called “Hail Columbia” that was established in about 1850. A few homes from that period still exist in the area and include the Pulaski King House and the Dr. Rose House. Hail Columbia loosely included the area between the west side of Michigan Avenue and the east side of Indiana Avenue, along Osborn Street, also known as “King’s Alley” due to its relationship with Pulaski King’s house. The area was eventually surrounded by the city by 1860, and then finally incorporated by LaPorte.
The Indiana and Michigan Avenues Historic District is located along Indiana and Michigan Avenues on the south side of the city. The district encompasses several blocks between Maple and Kingsbury Avenue. Within the district are some of the city’s finest homes representative of styles from the second half of the 19th Century and first half of the 20th Century.