Wilder Street Historic District

The Wilder Street Historic District is one of the Highlands neighborhood's most architecturally significant streets.  Just under one block in length, the district includes homes built in the Italianate, Second Empire, Stick, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles.  Typical of outlying areas in Lowell being subdivided by real estate entrepreneurs in the late 19th century, Wilder Street was home to a growing middle class of Lowell residents.  The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 and includes 31 structures.  In 2005, the Wilder Street Neighborhood District was created, utilizing the same National Register boundaries, requiring review by the Lowell Historic Board of demolition, partial demolition, and new construction projects.
Typical of new neighborhoods being developed in Lowell after the 1860s, they were influenced by the development of street railways that made outlying areas easily accessible from the downtown mill and commercial districts.  The first horse drawn line ran along Pawtucket and Merrimack Streets out to Belvidere in 1864 while another line from downtown extending to Westford Street stimulated real estate subdivision of old farmlands in the Highlands area.  Successful businessmen often purchased several acres of land, divided it into small lots, created a new street down the middle, and often named the street after themselves.

Wilder Street was one of many streets developed in this manner.  Charles H. Wilder, a local landowner, provision dealer, and farmer whose own large estate was nearby acquired most of the Wilder Street area in the 1860s for residential lots that were sold to separate owners in the 1870s and 1880s.  By 1896, every house lot in the two block area had been sold and built upon.

The district's early residents reflects the growth of a new middle class in Lowell in the 1870s and 1880s.  Wilder Street was considered one of Lowell's finest streets, attracting many new businessmen, professionals, and shopkeepers.