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90th Anniversary - The 1940s

90th Anniversary Eblast Page 1 - content below images

90th Anniversary Eblast Page 2 - content below images

Columbia Housing 90th Anniversary, 1934-2024

Yvonda A. Bean
Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director

Columbia Housing Celebrates 90 Years of Rich History

This year - in 2024 - Columbia Housing celebrates its 90th anniversary and its rich history as one of the country's first established Public Housing Authorities.

Over the next few weeks, we are excited to share that rich history with you in a 9-part series that takes you on a journey through the decades. This is our 2nd installment.

The 1940s: Gonzales Gardens & Allen-Benedict Court

During the 1940s, Columbia Housing opened two new public housing developments: Gonzales Gardens for White residents and Allen-Benedict Court for Black residents.

Gonzales Gardens Built under the same loan contract as Allen-Benedict Court, both projects together cost $1,800,000. Construction began first at Gonzales Gardens on Forest Drive in Columbia. The buildings were two stories and had three, four, or five-bedroom layouts. The Gonzales Gardens community featured a park, playground, sports fields, and a central administration building that provided early education for children. It also included space for social gatherings and created a sense of community among its residents.

As the complex neared completion in the summer of 1940, an influx of soldiers at Fort Jackson led to an agreement between the Columbia Housing Authority and the US Army to accommodate non-commissioned officers and their families at the site.

Gonzales Gardens was demolished in 2017 to make way for new modern housing. Columbia Housing broke ground on a new development on the site -The Oaks at St. Anna's Park - in April 2022.

Allen-Benedict Court Columbia Housing Authority selected a 16-acre property located near the city's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Allen University and Benedict College, to build the city's first public housing development solely for Black residents. Designed as a "sister site" to Gonzales Gardens, Allen-Benedict Court families began occupying the 244 units, split between flats and townhomes, by late 1940.

Allen-Benedict Court's amenities included parks, playgrounds, and a central administration building, ensuring that Allen-Benedict Court's residents experienced a similar sense of community as those living in Gonzales Gardens.

Ultimately, the tragic death of two residents due to carbon monoxide poisoning from gas leaks led to Allen-Benedict Court's immediate closure in January 2019. The complex was demolished in October 2021.

Be on the lookout for the 3rd installment of our 9-part series:
Columbia Housing: The 1950s

Columbia Housing and Cayce Housing provide housing to more than 6,500 families in its Housing Choice Voucher Program, Public Housing Program, and Tax Credit Properties encompassing more than 16,000 individuals across 24 properties in Columbia and Richland County. Columbia Housing is governed by a 7-member board with day-to-day operations under the leadership of the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Leadership Team.

Board of Commissioners:

Ernest W. Cromartie, III, Esq., Chairman
Kara Simmons, Vice-Chair
James Chatfield, Commissioner
George Green, Commissioner
Selena Pickens, Commissioner
Kevin Werner, Commissioner

1917 Harden Street • Columbia, SC 29204

Equal Housing Opportunity Provider & ADA Accessible