New Deal Homestead Communities

WEST VIRGINIA

Established in 1934, the Tygart Valley Homestead was the second New Deal community built in West Virgina. This settlement of 195 homes is comprised of three communities (Daily, East Daily, and Valley Bend) and featured not only subsistence farming but also a rural industrial initiative, the Kenwood lumber mill, which supplied wood for a commercial furniture operation.

Originally named the Red House settlement, the town of Eleanor changed its name to honor the First Lady who made such an impact on the community. Eleanor was the third settlement community built in WV.

ALABAMA

The Cahaba Project, also known as “Slagheap Village,” was built in 1935 on land vacated by the Trussville iron furnace used during World War I to provide pig iron. The furnace operated from 1889 to 1919 and was dismantled in 1933.

Skyline Farms was an attempt to transform ex-tenant farmers into independent landowners in Appalachian Alabama. Some of the earliest Anglo-American folk music recordings in the Library of Congress were recorded at Skyline Farms in 1939.

Located in west Alabama, most of the residents of Gee’s Bend are the descendants of slaves from the former Pettway plantation (and bear the surname Pettway). These residents purchased farms from the government during the New Deal. For much of the last century, the women of Gee’s Bend have produced some of the most striking examples of American vernacular art, sharing them among the community and storing them within their homes.

ALASKA

In 1935, 203 families from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan relocated to the Palmer Homestead in the fertile Matanuska Valley near Anchorage.

ARIZONA

In March 1935, construction began on the 80-acre Baxter Tract purchased for the Phoenix Homesteads. Although initially organized to feature a cooperative agricultural venture, the Homestead Association soon hired full-time workers to tend the dairy and poultry operations. This commercial agricultural venture resulted in the association being able to pay off its indebtedness to the Federal government. Forty of the sixty adobe homes constructed in the Pueblo Revival style still stand in the community’s historic district.

ARKANSAS

Similar to Tupelo, Mississippi, Dyess Colony, Arkansas, is more well-known for being the home of Johnny Cash than being a homestead community. Named after Arkansas’ first WPA administrator, William Dyess, the farming settlement was incorporated in 1936 to provide relief to farmers who had suffered from flooding and drought in the 1920s.

FLORIDA

In 1935, the WPA launched the $1.5 million Cherry Lake Rehabilitation Project. Officials selected 500 families residing in Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami, and moved them to a 15,000-acre communal tract they called Cherry Lake Farms.

GEORGIA

Located in west-central Georgia, Pine Mountain Valley featured cooperative agricultural programs as well as recreational, park, and cultural facilities. This settlement benefited greatly from its close proximity to Warm Springs and FDR’s “Little White House.”

MARYLAND

Built in 1937, Greenbelt was designed as a cooperative garden suburb that would be a model of modern town planning in America.

MISSISSIPPI

Although most famous for being the birthplace of Elvis Presley, Tupelo, Mississippi was also the first city electrified through the Tennessee Valley Authority. The U.S. Government established the Tupelo Homesteads as a farming community where homesteaders were employed at a textile factory. In 1940, the National Park Service incorporated the community into the Natchez Trace Parkway and since 1953, all the remaining houses have been used by the NTP as employee quarters or for other administrative purposes.

NEBRASKA

Eight farmsteads were built in Nebraska. Six to ten families settled on each of the eight large-acre plots to farm cooperatively.

NEW JERSEY

Established in 1936, the Borough of Roosevelt, New Jersey, was originally called Jersey Homesteads. Located in western Monmouth County, the Federal government established the community as an agricultural-industrial cooperative community for Jewish garment workers and farmers.

NEW MEXICO

Located south of Albuquerque, forty-two families settled Bosque Farms in 1935. The families settled in tents and other temporary housing until new 2-3 room adobe homes were built. By 1939, it became apparent the soil was not suitable for farming, so the community turned to dairy operations, which had become very successful by the 1960s.

NORTH CAROLINA

Established in 1934, Penderlea Homestead Farms was a cooperative industrial community created to provide penniless tenant farmers, bankrupt farm owners, and unemployed ex-farmers in North Carolina a means to make a living and to provide self-sufficient rural communities.

The Tillery Resettlement Farm was one of the largest resettlement projects in North Carolina and one of only 15 African-American projects in the United States. The resettlement farm, whose name was changed to the Roanoke Farms in 1936, covered 18,00 acres.

In 1930, the federal government acquired several plantation tracts and launched the Scuppernong Farms Project on the North Carolina coast. The FSA divided the land into single-family farms for sale, with 40-year mortgages to white and African-America farmers.

PENNSYLVANIA

The Westmoreland Homesteads was the first settlement built in Pennsylvania hoping to aid unemployed bituminous coal miners and their families. By 1937, the community of Norvelt (derived from a combination of Eleanor and Roosevelt) featured 254 homes, a cooperative farm, store, and garment factory.

Established in 1937, Penn-Craft was the second community built in Pennsylvania. Located in the southwestern part of the state, the American Friends Service Committee actually administered this community andstrove to ensure ethnic and racial diversity, a high-degree of self-help, and a strong sense of democracy in the new community.

TENNESSEE
Cumberland Homesteads is a planned New Deal Community built by the Division of Subsistence Homesteads between 1934 and 1938 in middle Tennessee on the Cumberland Plateau which is a few miles south of Crossville, TN. The community eventually consisted of 262 homes, a school, a park area, as well as a stone water tower and governmental building.

TEXAS

By the end of 1939, a total of 77 relocated farm families were working and living on the Ropesville Farms near Lubbock.

In 1937, the Sabine Farms project provided new farms for 75 African-American families in Texas. The community featured a cucumber shed, cooperative cannery, beauty shop, general store, doctor’s office, weaving loom, baseball diamond, smokehouse, and community center which was built by an all African-American Civilian Conservation Corps.

VIRGINIA

Aberdeen Gardens was designed for the resettlement of African-American workers in Newport News and Hampton. This is the only community built in Virginia solely for African-Americans and consists of 158 single-family homes, a school, and a commercial center built between 1934 and 1937.

WISCONSIN

Greendale is another of the three “Greenbelt Communities” built in the United States as pre-planned communities to create jobs and provide families with good housing at reasonable rents.