Ninth Street Hill has always been a significant part of Lafayette's history. Over the years, some of the homes of Ninth Street have gone from grand elegance to decline, but today we enjoy beautiful revitalization and restoration. Ninth Street Hill boasts a rich past and a gleaming future.
Lafayette was platted on May 25, 1825 in a checkerboard pattern, and by 1841 Ninth Street was known as "Clark Street", a street that ran straight through the town. At some point, Ninth Street Hill became known as "Prospect Hill", this name appearing on some abstracts as late as 1878. However, according to city records, in July of 1860 Clark Street was renamed "Ninth Street".
During the era of railroad expansion and prosperity from 1853 to 1872, a few of Lafayette's wealthy families who could afford servants and carriages, built "country estates" up in the hills of Lafayette. Moses Fowler, Oliver Pierce, Robert Sample, Gregory Ball, Judge Cyrus Ball, W.F. Reynolds, and Thomas Benbridge, all movers and shakers of early Lafayette, settled this new area of the young city. The flowering of Ninth Street Hill began and continued for 50 years.
During the Great Depression, some Ninth Street homes were altered to "take in boarders". Immediately after World War II, many neighborhood families carved out small apartments in their homes in response to requests by Purdue University to help house returning servicemen and their families. In the late 1950s and 1960s, the neighborhood properties continued to experience change. The movement of families to the suburbs, coupled with the natural changes as original families died, caused many old homes to become rentals with multiple apartments. The neighborhood fell into a period of decline, and several outstanding landmark structures, sadly, were razed.
In the late 1970s, with the onset of the national trend of preservation awareness, new families slowly began purchasing homes in the old Ninth Street Hill neighborhood. Today a flowering of Ninth Street is again blossoming forth. Many homes have been restored, children skate and ride bikes on new sidewalks, families share picnics, trees are planted and nurtured, and Ninth Street Hill is once again a neighborhood.