In the mid 1980s, the estate of a former Studebaker president, which became a Catholic girls school, was transformed into Erskine Manor. This elegant southeast-side neighborhood is filled with architectural gems and lovely wooded settings. The quality of the homes combined with a fabulous location makes this one of South Bend's most sought after neighborhoods. Erskine Manor had so much latent history that this late-blooming residential development instantly took on the feel of a historic district, the sort of solid time-transcending permanence that typically takes a century. Home prices start at around $500,000 and go up from there. The Villa Homes (which are condos), start closer to $200,000 and go up to $500,000.
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Erskine Manor had so much latent history that its late-blooming residential development instantly took on the feel of a historic district, the sort of solid time-transcending permanence that typically takes a century.
In less than 30 years, the estate of a former Studebaker president, which became a Catholic girls school, has been transformed into a leafy neighborhood filled with many of South Bend's civic leaders. This southeast neighborhood is near Erskine Golf Course, and the largest retail development on the south side, including Erskine Village and Erskine Commons.
Developers Jerry Hammes, Phil Faccenda and Joe Hickey, who acquired some 60 acres from the nuns whose order had operated the school, preserved the manor house, the stable and every possible tree.
"The partners divided the land into 30 acres in the center for one- or two-unit condominiums (Paul Erskine's manor house became four condominiums without losing its character) and 30 acres for single-family homes.
The rare opportunity for a new neighborhood in an older section of the city overcame many hurdles, including neighbors' fear of condominiums in a time when they weren't yet common.
The developers recruited a respected architect from the University of Michigan, who endured their razzing in those 1980's Notre Dame glory days, and a respected condominium developer who scrutinized each planned unit.
They attracted an elite, prominent clientele for the hilly, upscale neighborhood.
"This is a place where a lot of the original owners of the houses were business people and influential people in the community – something that had been built within the last 25 years," said an attorney, who bought his house 11 years ago from former Notre Dame quarterback Tom Clements.
"It's an oasis in the city. The most amazing part of living here is the wildlife," he said, listing raccoon, possum, skunk, rabbit, squirrel and red-tail hawk, which thrive in the dense woods, including three hilly, undeveloped acres across the street from his house.
Deer sometimes amble along Miami Street and a great horned owl nests nearby.
For all its pastoral feel, Erskine Manor is within easy reach of flourishing retail and restaurants. It's a short hop to the St. Joseph Valley Bypass for those who work in Elkhart County or Plymouth, as well as minutes from downtown South Bend.
It's also close to Stanley Clark School, a prestigious, private school that goes through the eighth grade, St. Matthew's Catholic School, Rabbi Naftali Riff Yeshiva, Marshall and Jackson intermediate centers, and Riley High School. All represent important draws for a new wave of families as the first generation of homeowners turns over.
"In the last couple of years, we've had some people who moved down from Granger," one homeowner said. "Now we've got families moving in, people with younger kids."
The transition is happening in both the single-family homes and the condominiums.
Home prices start at around $500,000 and go up from there. The Villa Homes (which are condos), start closer to $200,000 and go up to $500,000.