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The Northwest Side Historic District: A Walking Tour


Page Street

northwest side historic district

After 1880, some of the first new houses on the northwest side were built along Page Street, a well-traveled route to the north. By the 1890s, a number of professionals built here, around the Italianate villa of dry goods dealer Ole O. Forton. Page Street eventually became a sort of “doctor’s row,” with several residing here by 1915. Other nearby streets were built up incrementally and some lots were platted from farmland, rather than as part of subdivisions. Carriage houses were built at the rear of some of the lots; many were later converted to automobile garages.

Over two-thirds of the houses in the Northwest Side Historic District were constructed between 1880 and 1915. This area, like its neighbor to the south (the Southwest Side Historic District), housed many Norwegian immigrants and their families, including those who became prominent businessmen and professionals. A number of streets – such as Brickson, Forton, Harrison, and Van Buren – are apparently named for early residents. During Stoughton’s building boom, at least eleven older houses were moved to make room for larger buildings.

Fred G. Hill

Fred G. Hill,
Contractor and Builder.
Estimates given in all branches of parpenter work and building, and satisfaction guaranteed. A close inspection of work solicited, and parisons invited.
Fred Hill was a popular builder and a neighborhood resident.

Stoughton’s Golden Age came to an end with World War I. Area farmers found their soil depleted, and the market for tobacco collapsed. Wagons were supplanted by automobiles and tractors, ending a mainstay of the local economy. These changes are reflected in the lack of new construction on the northwest side in the 1920s. After World War II, Cape Cod and ranch style houses filled vacant lots; nearly fifty new houses were built. Many of the larger, older houses were converted into two-family houses or apartments. On some, historic architectural features such as porches and trim details gradually disappeared. By the end of the twentieth century, however, many of these changes were reversed by restoration – minded new owners. Today, some of these homeowners have interesting stories to tell about the adventure of restoring their historic houses.


There are several examples of Greek Revival and Italianate Style houses in the Northwest Stoughton Historic District, but the area is most distinguished by its many examples of the exuberant Queen Anne style. Here, heavily ornamented, picturesque houses stand next to those from the less decorative Free Classic phase of the style. In the latter, classical columns and more compact, boxier massing reveal the impact of the also – popular Colonial Revival Style.


Wood was the choice of owners and builders, with only a few examples of brick and concrete block construction. House plans for all types of styles were available in newspapers, at lumber dealers, and from local contractors.

Contractor – carpenters A.E. Ovren, Fred Hill, Knute Jenson, and John J. Holmstad completed many houses in the district. Holmstad was responsible for some of the twentieth –century Craftsman Style houses which feature simple exteriors, low rooflines with overhanging eaves, and exposed structural details such as rafter ends. Several twentieth –century houses originated with Sears, Roebuck and Company’s popular line of plans.


617 west hamilton street

George M. and Sarah Patterson House, 617 W. Hamilton St. (1897/1902). The eye-catching Queen Anne exterior has twin spindlework proches with wheel fretwork.

craftsman style house


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