Monday, March 6, 2017

Kew Gardens – Part 1

On my post about the First Baby of 1947, I noted that the father and mother “resided in a quonset hut in Kew Gardens.”

At least one person who left a comment on that post had never heard of Kew Gardens. That’s easy to understand, since there isn’t really a trace of it left today.

So what was Kew Gardens? Rick Kurish provided me with a nice capsule summary of what it was all about in an email a few years ago.

Rick wrote, "While spending time with friends on Lorain's east side over the holidays, we were discussing the post World War ll building boom in the area. I asked if anyone remembered the quonset huts that were erected on the south side of Colorado Ave. shortly after the war. Everyone looked at me as if I was crazy, but I clearly remember them.

"In the early 1950s, we would occasionally visit cousins who lived way out in the hinter lands of the east side on Colorado Ave,” said Rick. "I remember a number of quonset huts located south of Colorado Ave. somewhere near where Discount Drug Mart is currently. When I asked my dad what they were, he said they were emergency temporary housing that was erected for returning veterans. By the time I saw them in the early 1950s they were apparently already unoccupied. My dad said housing, and building materials, were scarce immediately after the war, and this was a stopgap solution.”

It’s strange to think of a bunch of quonset huts being up there on the south side of Colorado by Drug Mart.

Anyway, since Rick's email, I have been trying to compile enough information about Kew Gardens to do a post about it. 
An article that appeared in the Lorain Journal on November 23, 1946 show how the tenants were picked. The article noted that the names "of 139 veterans, selected for a special screening committee of World War II ex-servicemen for occupancy of the Kew Gardens veterans housing project were made public today by Willard Francis, secretary of the Lorain-co Housing Authority, which has charge of the project.
"The screening committee, made up of one representative each from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, the AMVETS and the veterans committee of the CIO, examined more than 600 applications.
“The committee went over each application using a special system of points. For instance, so many points were allowed for a family living in doubled-up quarters, there were points in cases involving pregnancy or in cases where families were forced to live in cellars or other quarters unfitted for residential use, also for families forced to live without proper toilet and other sanitary facilities necessary for decent living.” 
Once it was determined who was going to live in Kew Gardens, they had to have something to live in. In addition to the quonset huts, trailers were a big part of the first phase of the housing project. Where did they all come from? An article that ran in the Lorain Journal on December 26, 1946 revealed where they originated – and that they would soon be on their way to Lorain.
****
TRAILERS COMING
County to Let Contract For Vets’ Home
By Staff Correspondent
ELYRIA – County commissioners laid plans today for moving the county’s house trailers to the Lorain Veterans housing project at Kew Gardens from points in Michigan, Maryland and Florida.
The trailers will be inspected at their present sites to determine what repairs are necessary. Trailer that do not pass inspection will not be brought to Lorain.
Contract for the moving will be awarded to a Midland, Mich. hauling firm as soon as the inspections have been made. A small number of utility trailers in Michigan are to be brought to Lorain.
****
Quonset huts were apparently still a novelty when they were being used at Kew Gardens. In fact, the Journal ran this photo and accompanying caption to help explain what they were in the January 29, 1947 edition.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think in that area was where the group who wanted to grow marijuana wanted to put their operation. Two other business' I remember along the front part of that property next to the service station(Trifilettis'??) that was/is a trampoline place I guess you could pay to play on them(my Mother never let me go) and a Go cart place years later yet another place my Mother would not let me go. But I am alive to tell about it. Rae

Anonymous said...

Kew Gardens must not have been there very long as I grew up on Colorado Ave in the 70/80's and I don't recall anything on the south side of the street near Drug Mart except Trifiletti's gas station. The area between the gas station and Joyce Buick was always heavily wooded and basically our playground. The go-cart place was down the road a bit next to Wendy's as I remember it. I don't remember a trampoline place.
I find it very interesting that we played all over this area as children and there was such a deep history that nobody knew about. I just recently learned that there was a steel mill on the east side in that same area called Cromwell Steel. I remember as a kid wondering what those old railroad tracks behind Trifiletti's were used for since they seemed abandoned long ago. They were apparently remnants of the old steel mill.