CITYSCAPES


Neighborhood was ready for La Ressurrection


By KEVIN LEININGER
from the archives of The News-Sentinel

When the picture on the left snapped on a sunny day in 1900, the neighborhood now called LaRez was one of the city's showplaces. This view looking east along Tabor Street from the top of the Reservoir Park hill shows a neighborhood of trim new homes, buggy-tracked dirt streets and freshly planted trees. In the background, then as now, loomed the graceful spire of Zion Lutheran Church, built in 1890.

But as the picture right suggests, time has not been kind to the neighborhood. The homes standing on either side of Tabor Street in the earlier photograph have long since given way to vacant lots. Trees which were not much more than seedlings at the turn of the century now obscure the view.

A city planning department report prepared during the term of former Mayor Robert Armstrong spelled out LaRez's decline: ``Parts of LaRez were once residential showplaces, but in the past few decades the neighborhood has experienced significant decline. In 1976, nearly half the homes were found to be in need of some degree of rehabilitation ... Housing values dropped drastically from 1960 to 1970, when the rest of the city was enjoying growth and rising values.''

Despite the gloomy report, there is reason to believe LaRez may be making a comeback. Money is being spent to rehabilitate previously deteriorating homes, and the planning report admitted a turnaround was possible when it said LaRez ``has potential in its wealth of architecturally significant structures, the diversity of its people, its plentiful housing stock and its convenient central location.''

The neighborhood also has a very active community association which, along with the city, is working hard to bring about a much needed ``LaResurrection.''

(Editor's note, 1997: And the resurrection happened, and the neighborhood as a result developed one of the city's strongest neighborhood associations.

--April 17, 1982


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