Our Stories, Our Lives

World War II “Parkridge Homes” Receives Historical Marker Designation May 5


Designed by prominent African-American architect Hilyard Robinson, Parkridge Homes served as segregated housing for African-American wartime workers in Ypsilanti.

The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office has recognized “Parkridge Homes” as a significant part of Ypsilanti history. Unveiling of three historic markers takes place Friday, May 5 from 4–6pm at the Parkridge Community Center located at 591 Armstrong Drive, Ypsilanti.

Built in 1943, Parkridge Homes served as wartime housing for African-American workers at the Willow Run Bomber Plant. As a response to a housing shortage for area workers, prominent African-American architect, Hilyard Robinson, designed Parkridge Homes using the latest concepts in community planning.

Constructed the same year as Parkridge Homes was the Parkridge Community Center. Parkridge Homes is the last of three historic housing developments built in Ypsilanti during the 1940s.

“We are so grateful that several local families generously opened their photo albums and recalled the stories of their families and friends – this project would be incomplete without their help” said Katie Kolokithas, Architectural Historian at ASTI Environmental.

“Parkridge Homes is an important part of our local history,” said Andrea Plevek, Director, Washtenaw County Office of Community & Economic Development (OCED). “This dedication highlights both the history of housing segregation in Washtenaw County as well as the incredible contributions of African-Americans to our community. It is important to acknowledge and learn from our past in order to improve our future, and projects like this allow us to do just that.”

“And none of this would be possible without the concerted efforts of Melissa Milton-Pung, who oversees our historic preservation program, and has successfully worked with our community partners to bring the Parkridge project to fruition” adds Plevek.

Under the direction of the Ypsilanti Housing Commission and Washtenaw County OCED, ASTI Environmental completed research on the history of this site and its architect; as well as the story of its connection to World War II and the Willow Run Bomber Plant.

The final location of the historical markers (interpretive panels) will be the management building of the “New Parkridge” Homes currently under construction between First Avenue and Armstrong Drive in Ypsilanti.

“Ypsilanti Housing Commission is excited to provide new and improved housing units to our residents, while at the same time honoring the history of the site and the work of architect Hilyard Robinson.” Said Zac Fosler, Executive Director, Ypsilanti Housing Commission.

The “New Parkridge” will include 86 units of rental housing, composed primarily of two-family and duplex homes. Project partners for the redevelopment are:

  • Washtenaw County OCED
  • Ypsilanti Housing Commission
  • City of Ypsilanti
  • ASTI Environmental (Contractor)

This project is part of a larger effort led by several entities – including Eastern Michigan University, the Ypsilanti District Library, and the City of Ypsilanti – to record and remember under-documented African American history in Ypsilanti.

The Parkridge Homes local history documentation and interpretation project is funded by a Michigan Humanities Council Grant.

Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development is committed to ensuring the preservation of our County’s rich and diverse history.

PHOTOS

Historic photos of Parkridge Homes at the time of their construction, 1943.


RESOURCES

Washtenaw County Historic Preservation

Ypsilanti Housing Commission

Black Ypsi: Recorded & Remembered, An African-American Signage Project

CONTACT:
Melissa Milton-Pung
Washtenaw County Office of Community & Economic Development
734-544-2954
miltonpungm@ewashtenaw.org
www.ewashtenaw.org/oced

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About Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED)

In service of our belief that all Washtenaw County residents deserve a high quality of life, OCED delivers critical programs and community initiatives in the areas of affordable housing, human services, economic development and community infrastructure. We serve local individuals, families, and communities through a mix of direct services, public policy development, and investment of monetary and technical support. To learn more, visit www.ewashtenaw.org/oced

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