Cass-King Residential NRHP District

Cass-King Residential Historic District Overview

The Cass/King Residential Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, the second NRHP district in the city and the first listed residential district. The district covers a large area roughly twenty blocks square; west to east from West Ave to 20th Street, and north to south from Main Street to Madison Street. This neighborhood on the south side of La Crosse is the most outstanding concentration of fashionable and architecturally significant late 19th and early 20th century residences in the city. The Cass/King District includes 287 properties, of which 220 are considered contributing to the significance of the district and 44 are identified as excellent examples of historic styles built between 1880 and 1940. The twenty buildings on this tour represent the best representatives of 19th century late Victorian and 20th century Early Modern architecture in the city. Styles represented include Queen Anne and Romanesque from the 1890s, Prairie Style from the 1910s and 1920s and Classical, Colonial and Tudor Revival from 1900 to 1940.

As La Crosse boomed after the Civil War, residential development continued east from the river along the sandy floodplain which provided no obstacles to building construction. The first homes in the district were built in the 1880s by a few wealthy residents looking to live on the edge of the city on larger lots, away from the noise and commotion of the core city. Cass Street and King Streets east of West Avenue became the most prestigious avenues in town and attracted more residents who built larger and more grandiose homes in the late Victorian Era. The neighborhood also has excellent examples of the paradigm shift in building style and interior décor that occurred in America around the turn of the century. The shift from the imposing grandiosity of the Queen Anne and Romanesque to the more open, simplified and modern appearance of the Arts and Crafts influenced Prairie Style can be seen within a few blocks walk in the district. Reflecting the impact of the early 20th century aesthetic are four examples of high-style late Victorian homes that in the first two decades of the 20th century had a complete “make-over” inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement. And most likely an effort to keep up with the neighbors!

The socio-economic profile of the first owners of the grand homes in the district reflects the eastern-born Yankee background of most of the early successful entrepreneurs in the city as well as a good representation of the self-made German and Norwegian immigrants. Professions represented include lumber, finance, construction, beer-making, manufacturing and medicine; all base industries in La Crosse in the years between 1880 and 1940. Although a few of the large high-style homes were converted to multi-family occupancy by the mid-20th century, the district has retained its elegant and somewhat exclusive appearance and reputation. Pride of ownership, a sensitivity to the historic architectural flavor of the neighborhood and a commitment to historic preservation is evident throughout the district. Today, the Cass/King Historic District remains a prestigious and attractive neighborhood with a high density of architecturally significant buildings. Enjoy your tour of this fine neighborhood!

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map showing cass and king streets neighborhood with route for tour