Streets of Wooster: Henrietta St.

Inspired by Richard Peter’s book, The Streets of Wooster, the history of Henrietta Street located within the City of Wooster is recounted.

Henrietta Street was most likely named after Edward M. Quinby’s wife: Henrietta. It originally ran west from it’s intersection on Beall Avenue, past the College of Wooster’s Old Main Hall, where Kauke Hall sits today, and terminated at Quinby Avenue. The College eventually closed the portion of Henrietta between Beall Avenue and Bever Street for safety reasons: it is the main walkway through campus and absent minded students, and fast moving automobiles, were not a good combination.

The section of Henrietta between Bever and Quinby, is infamous for it’s uneven surface and wavy red bricks’ ability to pop hubcaps, bend rims, flatten tires, and test your car’s shocks to their breaking point. However, residents in the area have become attached to their red bricks and will not let the city remove them in order to improve, smooth, and modernize the street. These bricks were likely laid sometime in late 1918, or early 1919, as it was reported on April 19, 1919 in the Wooster Daily Republican newspaper that a janitor at the College of Wooster, Mr. M. Schneider, had purchased a beautiful lot on Henrietta in the University Heights Allotment from Landes & Landes, and that there were only four lots remaining on this newly improved street. The improvement was likely the sandstone curbs and brick pavement we still have in use today. However, all locals know that you drive the red brick waves on E. Henrietta, at your own risk.

Henrietta Street was extended farther west past Quinby Avenue once the Wooster Country Club golf course became a popular destination in the early 1900’s. However, it did not connect to North Grant Street as it does today. North Grant Street actually terminated at it’s intersection with W. University Street. West Henrietta Street originally had what the city referred to as an alley, that bent to the right (north), went through the Country Club grounds, crossed a bridge over a creek, and traveled north to connect with Wayne Avenue. However, this alley was informally known as the “road to Redick’s Dam” for at least a hundred years or more, and considered a “lovers lane” in it’s day. The old entrance to the W. Henrietta St. alley on Wayne Avenue can still be seen today on the south side of the big dip on Wayne Avenue.

Looking east on Wayne Ave. the old entrance to the Henrietta St. alley can be seen.

So, when did Henrietta Street get connected to N. Grant Street? A City Council meeting on July 1, 1918 reveals that an ordinance was passed for the vacating and relocating of Henrietta Street, a portion of which ran through the grounds leading to the Country Club. Another Council meeting reported in the Wooster Daily Republican on August 2, 1918, reiterated the petition to vacate the north-and-south alley from Henrietta Street to Wayne Avenue, and pass an ordinance to relocate a portion of Henrietta Street so that the west-end connects with the northern-end of Grant Street, instead of going through a part of the Country Club house, as the plans now show it. The matter of vacating the Henrietta Street alley and relocating the street was passed on to the City’s street committee.

Looking north on Grant St. the Henrietta St. hairpin turn can be seen.

Exactly when the Henrietta Street relocation construction was started and finished to connect with N. Grant is not known but the 1923 Wooster City Directory for W. Henrietta reports it to be “Under Construction.” Some of the original sandstone curbstones put in during this street relocation, can still be seen along the edges of N. Grant and W. Henrietta Street. As for the Henrietta Street north-and-south alley, it became a private drive supplying access to the old Country Club clubhouse and was still utilized right up until the old clubhouse was demolished in 1987. Not long after the old clubhouse was torn down the Country Club removed the bridge over the creek and the section of Henrietta alley on the north-side of the creek has fallen into disrepair and is deeply rutted from water runoff.

Looking south from Wayne Ave. the remains of the old Henrietta St. alley can be seen.

Henrietta Street may not be one of the oldest streets in town but she definitely has character: the red brick waves on the east-end, and the hairpin turn on the west-end make her a memorable street in Wooster.

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