East Main Street-Glen Miller Park Historic District, “Millionaires Row”
The East Main Street-Glen Miller Park Historic District comprises an almost nine-tenths mile length of East Main Street between 18th and 30th Streets, including the 175 acres of Glen Miller Park. The overall character of East Main Street is that of a broad tree-lined residential street. The district recognizes the historical significance of East Main as a major entrance to Richmond and pays tribute to the aesthetic character of this thoroughfare.
The early history of East Main Street is linked with the National Road. That interstate route, initiated by federal legislation in 1806, was surveyed through Richmond in 1827 and opened to traffic across the state in 1835. Even during the second half of the 19th Century, when the road was controlled and operated by the Wayne County Turnpike Company, with a toll gate at 23rd Street, this remained the major entrance and exit from the city.
Several brick houses were constructed before 1880 reflect the early existence of the street as part of the National Road. Larger and more ornate residences such as those of architect John Hasecoster, piano and phonograph manufacturer Henry Gennett, and lawn mower manufacturer Elwood W. McGuire attest to the prominence of the street in decades around the turn of the century. This distinctive street has been referred to as, “Millionaires Row.” Even the more modest but well designed homes erected during the teens and twenties demonstrates the continued attractiveness of this street for residential use.
Glen Miller Park has been serving Richmond well over 100 years. The land was originally owned by John F. Miller, an executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The city purchased the land from Miller and named the park in his honor, opening in 1880. The park is significant as a public space which owed its initial popularity to the street railway access. It has continued to be improved and cared for through city ownership.
The district confirms the relationship between the park and the development of homes along the primary route which led to it from east to west. Thus, two features once characteristic of many American cities-the large outlying park, and the grand residential street leading to and from the center of town-are here remarkably preserved, with only minor intrusions.