Local History: How Breezedale boosted the city’s growth spurt

photo by: Cynthia Hernandez/Journal-World

This sign, and its double across Massachusetts Street at 23rd Street, denote the entrance to the Breezedale neighborhood, which began with five homes built in 1909 and 1910. According to local historian Steve Jansen, Breezedale was the first identifiable suburban neighborhood in Lawrence. This image was taken on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.

The electric streetcars in Lawrence may have fallen out of favor, but at least one new neighborhood they made possible is still here.

Breezedale — Lawrence’s first identifiable suburban neighborhood — is at the southern end of Massachusetts Street. It was developed by Charles E. Sutton, who built five homes with similar architectural character in 1909 and 1910. Dale E. Nimz, in a 2007 National Register of Historic Places registration form, identified it as a historic district.

Several residences in this area are examples of the “Comfortable Houses” that were built from 1890 to 1930 in suburbs in the United States. These include foursquare and bungalow building types.

Sutton followed the example of Charles B. Hosford, who came to Lawrence in 1906 and was responsible for several housing additions in the city.

A 1929 Lawrence Journal-World report said that Hosford’s first and second additions in 1906 were probably the first made in Lawrence in 20 years.

A total of eight additions extended the southern limits of the town and built up blocks on either side of Massachusetts Street between 19th and 22nd streets.

Construction of an electric streetcar system in Lawrence during the fall of 1909 stimulated the development of these new additions. On Sept. 20, 1909, the Lawrence Journal wrote that the electric streetcar’s arrival marked a new era:

“It meant a larger and greater Lawrence. The skeptics were vanquished and the optimists ruled. For more than two decades Lawrence had dreamed of its street railway and now the dream has become a reality.”

The Lawrence Light and Railway Company promoted electric streetcar use when developing Woodland Park, now Brook Creek Park, between 11th and 13th streets and Haskell Avenue and Harper Street.

In September 1909, the company opened its main route from the Santa Fe Railroad depot near the south side of the Kansas River to the southern end of Massachusetts Street. After 1927, however, the company gradually replaced the streetcars with buses.

Nimz notes that vital links between the street railway, the development of South Lawrence, and the new Breezedale addition were emphasized in a Sept. 22, 1909, Lawrence Journal article:

“Breezedale has long been looked upon by the investors as the future fine residence portion of Lawrence …”

Work has begun on “the fine artistic gateway which is being erected. This will make Breezedale the Park addition to the city and will make a fitting terminus for the line.” The gateway is still there: the two pillars on each side of the intersection of 23rd and Massachusetts streets at the primary entrance to the Breezedale addition.

Breezedale developed slowly over the next three decades. Between 1901 and 1919, Lawrence recorded 29 additions and subdivisions, primarily in the south part of town However, only seven new plats were recorded after 1920.


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