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  1. #1
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Military Barracks (???) along Bassett Street (late-1940's-1950's)?

    While working on an upcoming web-page for my Detroit Transit History website, which will focus on the history of the former DSR Bassett bus route, I ran across something unusual which aroused my curiosity.

    I first noticed on old DSR timetable cards from the mid-1950's that the Bassett bus line was routed off of Bassett St. to Ethel for about 3 blocks (btw Visger and Miami) and then routed back along Bassett. I didn't think too much of it at first until something told me to pull up an aerial photo of that area. To my surprise I noticed that Bassett street appeared to be closed down for three blocks and traffic routed around what looked like some type of military compound (???) which seemed to stretch into River Rouge to the south. I used the military compound (or barracks) description of the area because of the unusual arrangement of the buildings in that section compared to the housing in the surrounding area.

    This street closure appears on DTE aerial collection photos from 1949, 1952 and 1956, but not in 1961. The closest street map I have prior (1937) shows no closure of Bassett. According to DSR route information, in October of 1957 the bus route was through routed back onto Bassett, but I could find no mention as to why. I've included a 1952 aerial photo showing the street routing around Bassett.

    Anyone have a clue what this area might have been used for?

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  2. #2
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    Defense worker housing. There were clusters of them all around the city, built to provide temporary housing for the surging wartime work force. Some were Quonset huts, others wood and tar paper shacks. They were built in vacant fields and undeveloped land. Most were gone by the sixties, which was much longer than they were intended to be used.

  3. #3
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    I had posted just after the site went down for a bit. Yes, quonset huts. Lots of substandard, shoddy, prefab and ad hoc housing was created in Detroit 1941-1945. We forget how favorably people viewed prefabs then. Notably, quonset huts were used as classrooms when Wayne State was expanding after the war.

  4. #4
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    You'll find some more examples here:

    http://atdetroit.net/forum/messages/62684/73103.html

    Looking at a map from the 1920s, the area bounded by Visger & Schaffer, Campbell & Liddesdale was empty - no street grid. It probably was soggy ground and never developed in the 1920s real estate boom.

  5. #5
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    After more searching, I found that they were the John R. Fisher Homes, 17911 Miami Street, run by the Detroit Housing Commission.

  6. #6
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    Here's a list of public housing projects from the era (1949). Some of them were built before the war for housing the poor or as blight clearance projects, while others were temporary housing for defense workers:

    Albert L Catallo Homes - 311 Fordson
    Algonquin Homes- 399 Tennessee
    Alphonse Adams Homes - 19720 Oakland
    Brewster Homes - 3461 Hastings
    Brooks Homes - 20225 Wyoming
    Charles F Stone Homes - 11225 Harper
    Charles Project - 5512 Buffalo Ct
    Colonel Hamtramck Homes - 12025 Dequindre
    Douglass Homes - 3425 Hastings
    Emerson Homes - 17801 Sherwood
    Herman Gardens - 8300 Midgarden
    John R Fisher Homes - 11791 Miami
    John W Smith Homes - 14313 Cresent
    Leroy F Croxon Homes - 399 St Jean
    Marvin Mosley Homes - 14750 Dequindre
    Parkside Homes - 12515 E Warren
    Sojourner Truth Homes - 4801 E Nevada
    Valentine Homes - 19252 Dequindre
    William J McKeever Homes - 11940 Linnhurst (Osborn High School/Bessy Playgrounds)
    Last edited by MikeM; December-17-09 at 10:31 PM.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2009
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    Sorry to threadjack here but MikeM I was wondering if you remembered which thread it was where the rifle range land on the east side was discussed? Ive been trying to dig through the archives of the old site with no luck. Also I found your thread on the military housing and it answered another mystery which was the housing where I75 runs today from 8 mile road south. Any idea why that land sat vacant before the military housing was built? ROW for the Stephenson hwy into the city?
    Last edited by fareastsider; December-17-09 at 10:45 PM.

  8. #8
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    Here it is, Long City Blocks II: http://atdetroit.net/cgi-bin/foroum/...017&page=81425

    I don't know why the land was vacant. Maybe it was being preserved as a ROW. I see a similar pattern along several other streets when I look through the old aerial photos.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2009
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    Yes it is interesting to see some former vacant ROWs hidden throughout the old aerials. Some were never completed and only exist in small segments today but in the old aerials you can see undeveloped sections with walks and everything such as the Fordson Hwy in western Wayne Co or even the Wabash Hwy with a 204' ROW near the tracks extending into Taylor. Thank you again Mikem.

  10. #10
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    Jul 2009
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fareastsider View Post
    Sorry to threadjack here but MikeM I was wondering if you remembered which thread it was where the rifle range land on the east side was discussed? Ive been trying to dig through the archives of the old site with no luck. Also I found your thread on the military housing and it answered another mystery which was the housing where I75 runs today from 8 mile road south. Any idea why that land sat vacant before the military housing was built? ROW for the Stephenson hwy into the city?
    i cant find the rifle range topic either but i do remember a discussion about it, i grew up on chatsworth, and lived across the street from a mr. vallad (rip), he was a fire chief and was probably 70 when i was 5, i remember him talking about the area around chatsworth and the rifle range, he was the first to build on the block in the 20's if i remember correctly......

  11. #11
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    You guys are fantastic. Great topics, research and presentations. Thanks. First thing came to my mind was quonset huts and military and post war, subsidized housing. Often the former morphed into the latter. In River Rouge down near Belanger Park and the GLEW were quonset huts that housed people, post war. I don't remember how many. I was in some because they housed friends and relatives. Some old-timers told me there were also large quonset huts used for warehousing along the water in Rouge. One guy said his job, post war, was to walk buyers, domestic and foreign, around the warehouses and storage areas to inspect military surpluses for prospective purchase. Quonset huts in the Rouge were mostly gone by the late 50's or early 60's.

  12. #12
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    Thanks MikeM and all for passing along that great info. It helped answer a number of questions for me about that area, which I can incorporate into my webpage.

    Also, after doing an online search on the 'racially restrictive' John R. Fisher Homes project, I noticed that it and a number of other Detroit post war housing projects, although paid for with federal dollars, were deeply rooted in the discriminatory housing practices that plagued this city during the 1940's. Interesting!

  13. #13
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    Again, I would like to thank MikeM and others who passed along information on that war housing project built along Bassett street in SW Detroit during the 1940s. Your response has helped me to add a bit of the info you've shared to the Bassett bus route history web-page I was working on. I recently added the page to my Detroit Transit History website. Those who might be interested in viewing it can do so at:
    http://www.detroittransithistory.inf...s/Bassett.html

  14. #14
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    Mar 2011
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    Default McKeever Homes

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Here's a list of public housing projects from the era (1949). Some of them were built before the war for housing the poor or as blight clearance projects, while others were temporary housing for defense workers:

    William J McKeever Homes - 11940 Linnhurst (Osborn High School/Bessy Playgrounds)
    MikeM, I have been searching the Internet for about 10 years (!) in an effort to find the name of this housing project !!!

    I lived there as a child around 1948-1950 when my step-father worked for Chrysler. I attended Von Stueben school for kindergarten 1949-1950. For a year or two prior, we lived in an apt on E Jefferson near the Belle Isle bridge. In 1951 we moved back to Akron, OH, the family hometown.

    I have some hazy memories about the Homes. The wood burning cook stove, and pot-bellied wood burning furnace. I have seen the aerial photos of the area, both from the 1950's, and current. Interesting that in the current photos you can see the faint outline of the U-shaped streets.

    Can you point me to any other info re Wm. McKeever and the Homes ??
    Thanks very much,
    Reed

  15. #15
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    Mar 2010
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    I know this is the Detroit board , but I live near the Kramer homes (10 mile and Van Dyke )

    http://www.kramerhomesco-op.com/site_aboutUs.asp

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by reed303 View Post
    Can you point me to any other info re Wm. McKeever and the Homes ??
    Thanks very much,
    Reed
    I'm sorry, I have no other information other than what has been posted here. I don't even remember where I found that list.

  17. #17
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    My mom grew up on Beatrice Avenue, just a bit north of this area. I asked her about this housing and, to my surprise, she remembered it. She said they were called "The Projects" and as kids, they were not allowed to venture over there. She said the residents of this housing were quite poor and she only saw them when they would meet in a corner store. She moved in 1955 and cannot recall if this housing was still in place at that time or not.

  18. #18
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    I went to Parker Elementary school, at Plymouth and Meyers. About 1948/9, kids were bussed in from the "Rouge Barracks" in Rouge Park. Tarpaper shacks is about right. That was a long bus ride, and I always wondered why they were bussed so far from "home" when there were many elementary schools between.
    If I remember right, they were a tough bunch of kids. One of the girl's was in my class, and looked tough, but was really very nice. I still remember her name.
    Sorry, a bit off point and not really contributing any useful information.

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