Parkside Dwellings - Washington DCPhoto by the Alley Dwelling Authority, ca. 1937-1944. Source: Report of the National Capital Housing Authority, 1934-1944.
The Alley Dwelling Authority (ADA) and the United States Housing Authority (USHA) funded the construction of the Parkside Dwellings in Washington, DC, between 1941 and 1943. This housing project was described being at Kenilworth Avenue and Barnes Lane, N.E., and “near the old Benning race track” (Evening Star, 1942). Today, that location is in the vicinity of Parkside Playground, Thomas Elementary School, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, and Mayfair Mansions Apartments (the latter sits on the site of the old Benning race track). Barnes Lane is now called Barnes “Street.”
It is unknown to the Living New Deal if Parkside Dwellings still exists, or it has any relationship to Mayfair Mansions Apartments, which was a housing project associated with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), constructed from 1942-1947. Mayfair Mansions Apartments does not seem to have been an ADA project.
The ADA was one of the earliest New Deal initiatives to provide better housing for low-income Americans. It replaced unsafe alley dwellings in Washington, DC with more modern and affordable houses and apartments. The ADA existed from 1934-1943 as a federally controlled special authority. It then slowly evolved into today’s DC Housing Authority, an independent agency of the DC Government.
Beginning in December 1941, the ADA was ordered to prioritize housing for war workers. Parkside Dwellings was one of the initial ADA projects to have its plans & purposes modified by these wartime changes.
Report of the National Capital Housing Authority, For the Ten-Year Period 1934-1944, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1945, available on Hathitrust (accessed July 14, 2020).
“Colored Housing Units To Be Ready Next Month,” Evening Star, October 7, 1942, p. A-5 (accessed July 27, 2020).
“NCHA to Construct 740 Units for Colored War Workers,” Sunday Star, October 31, 1943, p. A-22 (accessed July 27, 2020).
“5,000 on ‘Wait List’ for 594-Unit, Negro-Built D.C. Project,” Evening Star, February 1, 1947, p. B-1 (accessed July 27, 2020).
Kent Boese, “Lost Washington: Benning Race Track,” Greater Greater Washington, January 25, 2010 (accessed July 27, 2020).
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on July 30, 2020.
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