Opening ceremony with First Lady Eleanor RooseveltOpening ceremony with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
The Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects (officially named the Frederick Douglass Homes, and alternately named Frederick Douglass Projects, Frederick Douglass Apartments, Brewster-Douglass Homes, and Brewster-Douglass Projects) were the largest residential housing project owned by the city of Detroit.
It was one of 50 slum clearance, low income housing projects financed by the Public Works Administration nationwide in 1936. The Brewster Homes were 791 living units over 28 acres, at a cost of $5,500,000.
Construction began in 1935, when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt broke ground for the 701-unit development; the first phase, consisting of low-rise apartment blocks, was completed in 1938. An expansion of the project completed in 1941 brought the total number of housing units to 941. The Frederick Douglass Apartments, built immediately to the south of the Brewster Project, began construction in 1942 with the completion of apartment rows, two 6-story low-rises, and finally six 14-story high rises completed between 1952 and 1955. The combined Brewster-Douglass Project was five city blocks long, and three city blocks wide, and housed anywhere between 8,000 and 10,000 residents, at its peak capacity.
The Brewster-Douglass Projects were built for the “working poor”; the Detroit Housing Commission required an employed parent for each family before establishing tenancy. As the Commission became less selective, crime became a problem in the 1960s and 1970s, and the projects eventually fell into disrepair. The original Brewster Homes were demolished in 1991 and replaced by 250 townhouses.
Architectural Forum June 1936
Project originally submitted by Andrew Laverdiere on May 17, 2022.
We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION OR PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THIS SITE