Wednesday, May 25, 2016

MacArthur Park and Fairlawn Court

In the collections of historical pictures from Sandusky and Erie County housed at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center are three photographs from MacArthur Park and Fairlawn Court, which began as federal housing projects during World War II.  The pictures were taken in 1955. The license plate of the car pictured above began with the letters YC. (Many local residents of a certain age will recall the popular YC and YE letter combinations used for autombile license plates in the 1950s and 1960s.) 

As World War II approached, the U.S. Government purchased land in Perkins Township for the construction of a munitions factory. The Trojan Powder Company operated at the Plum Brook Ordnance Works throughout the war, and provided jobs for hundreds of individuals. Sandusky faced a housing shortage as workers poured in to Erie County to supply manpower for the defense industry. MacArthur Park, located at the former site of the Erie County fairgrounds, at Camp Street and Perkins Avenue, was built to help curb the housing shortage. A local contest was held to select a name for the housing development, with Mrs. Bernice Jameson selected for her entry: “General Douglas MacArthur is the hero of the hour, and it seems appropriate to name a defense housing development in his honor as his name and accomplishments will be tomorrow’s history.” 

The Sandusky Register  featured two pages to celebrate the dedication of MacArthur Park on November 11, 1943.

The Trojan Powder Company ran this advertisement, which praised the community as well as the defense workers.

The Rev. J.A. Griffith gave the invocation at the dedication.  Public Housing officials gave remarks, as did Mayor George A. Apel. Musical selections were provided by Sandusky High School.

In 1943 another federal housing project, Fairlawn Court, was built to provide housing for African American residents of the south end of the city of Sandusky.  

Fairlawn Court had 104 family units on Buchanan Street between Carr and Shelby Streets. The development was listed as Fairlawn Park Apartments on this 1955 Sanborn Map.

Many Sandusky couples and families had their first home in MacArthur Park or Fairlawn Court, and then moved to larger accommodations as their families grew, or their economic circumstances changed. 


DJP said...

MacArthur Park was known by some to be the "white projects" during the time that my mother, brother and I resided there in the mid-60's. For good reason, I suppose. I recall seeing flames from the Giant Tiger store fire from the park in 1964.

Jim Trout said...

I lived there with my family from 1944 to 1951 while my parents worked at Trojan Powder.