Charles Stuart, politician and lawyer, initiated this residential area with the building of his Italianate house in 1858. Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas visited the Stuart home
which was one of the first on the west edge of the village of Kalamazoo. Later, as the neighborhood developed around that site, Stuart opened Douglas Avenue which he named in honor of his guest. Most of the early residents of this area, then a suburb, were prosperous businessmen and self-employed craftsmen.