Kizer House Site Set for Transformation

A sea of concrete has surrounded South Bend’s Kizer House for decades. But we’re about to begin work to replace the pavement with an elegant landscape.

Kizer House, South Bend

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

For as long as anyone can remember, South Bend’s Kizer House has been yardless, rising from a sea of pavement installed when the grand home was carved into rental units in the mid-twentieth century.

Indiana Landmarks is poised to return a sense of Victorian elegance to the house’s landscape, and you’re invited to help! Join us for a ground-breaking – well, more like concrete-breaking — on August 28 at 5:30 p.m., where you can take a swing with a sledge-hammer to begin transformation of the site. Bring your own hard hat if you have one.

When William and Elizabeth Kizer built their West Washington Street home, in 1888 they surrounded it with lush gardens in the style popular in the Victorian era. That changed when the city demolished several of the neighborhood’s grand houses for an “Inner-belt” road adjacent to the house. The road claimed the home of Elizabeth Brick Kizer’s parents next door. Long-time residents say the Kizer House was targeted for demolition until a contingent urged the city to spare it. The four-lane thoroughfare did a great job of moving traffic, but it devastated the historic neighborhood and the Kizer House’s sense of place.

Kizer House historic

Indiana Landmarks began restoring the property in 2015. The house needed lots of work, but the towered stone fortress always looked handsome. Ripping up the yards and yards of pavement may be an even more visible signal of transformation.

Contractors will soon remove all the concrete, lower the grade in front to cure drainage problems, and install a missing granite step at the front entrance. Remarkably, the original step survives, discovered in a remote corner of the back yard where it had been discarded years ago. We’ll also move the driveway from the front to the side of the house, eliminating an unsafe entrance from the street, and add a parking area in the rear. We’ll return a sense of Victorian elegance to the landscape.

Kizer House concrete

(Photo: Kil Architecture and Planning)

Last July, Indiana Landmarks sold the Remedy Building, two blocks east on Washington Street, to help fund masonry repair and a new roof at the Kizer House. Now we turn our attention to the site and to completing restoration of the historic garage.

Restoration of the garage includes renovation of the second-floor apartment, current home of our Northern Regional Office. We’ll restore the historic windows, repair stucco, repaint, and make other repairs.

We could use your financial support too. Contribute to the Kizer House turnaround here (be sure to note “Kizer House” in the comment field). We plan to complete the yard work in time for our Holiday Open House on November 29. Mark your calendar now so you can see the transformation for yourself.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more about the Kizer House’s restoration.

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