Neighborhood Gardens 3Neighborhood Gardens, St. Louis, MO public housing project, vacated in the past and restored.
Neighborhood Gardens is part of the first round of federally backed public housing in America. Only 7 projects were completed in this earliest phase, including Harlem River Houses in New York City and Techwood Homes in Atlanta. The program provided loans to limited dividend corporations to clear slums and build low-rent housing projects. The program proved slow and unwieldy, and was replaced by the PWA’s direct-subsidy program in 1935, out of which 52 projects were completed. These programs were discontinued with the passage of the 1937 Housing Act that established the US Housing Authority. However, most historians agree that the PWA-era projects were much better designed and built than their stripped-down successors.
Neighborhood Gardens occupies one city block on the near north side of St. Louis. The project was the brainchild of J.A. Wolf, the executive director of the Neighborhood Association Settlement House. In 1933, the Association formed a limited dividend company, purchased the land, secured the PWA loan, hired the architects, and commenced the project. The PWA loan totaled $500,000, with another $140,000 coming from private subscriptions. The first tenants moved in on January 20, 1935.
Neighborhood Gardens consisted of 252 apartments distributed in six three-story buildings. The buildings were organized into U-shapes to provide interior gardens and courtyards. The complex included a playground, a splash pool, and a community center with a large industrial kitchen. Conceived in a segregated city, the project restricted residence to white families.
The project provided decent, safe, affordable housing to working families for decades. However, it fell into decline in the 1980s amid a series of ill-fated ownership changes, as well as the general deterioration of inner core neighborhoods. By 1990, it was vacated and abandoned. However, in 2001, the Spanish Lake Development company purchased the complex and undertook a multi-million dollar renovation. Today, Neighborhood Gardens is a beautifully restored 144-unit complex with a mix of market rate and low-income apartments.
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Landmarks Association of St. Louis http://preservationresearch.com/2005/08/neighborhood-gardens-and-the-perils-of-modernism/
Project originally submitted by Joseph Heathcott on January 12, 2013.