Before They’re Lost…

Before They’re lost, New Deal Neighbors Collects the Stories of Greenhills, Ohio’s Earliest Residents

Located just past Winton Woods, this suburban enclave was created by the government during the Great Depression era

DEC 7, 2018 1 PM

8a03504vA Greenhills family. 1938.PHOTO: JOHN VACHON; RETRIEVED FROM THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESSGreenhills, Ohio was founded to pioneer a dream. Just north of Cincinnati and past Winton Woods, the suburb is marked by classic American iconography: a community center, swimming pool, shopping strip, small apartment buildings and single-family homes.

But the village’s history runs deeper than its sleepy present-day appearance. During the 1930s, it was one of three Greenbelt Communities built by the federal government; Greenbelt, Maryland and Greendale, Wisconsin round out the trio.

“The interesting thing about Greenhills is that it’s really under-appreciated locally,” says Anne Delano Steinert, a public history doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati. “People don’t really realize what an important national exemplar it was.”

As Greenhills celebrated its 80th anniversary in spring (and was named a National Historic Landmark in 2017), the “New Deal Neighbors” online project came to fruition through a public history practicum course at University of Cincinnati, which Delano Steinert helped lead alongside Dr. Tracy Teslow.

Each of the seven students that made up the spring practicum course interviewed three of Greenhills’ earliest residents to collect their memories about the village. Now, those interviews are available on a website in the form of videos (except one interview conducted via phone) and transcripts.

Conceived during the Great Depression, the three experimental suburbs were meant to create jobs and provide affordable housing for working-class families, with urban planner Rexford Tugwell — who helped develop policies for President Roosevelt’s New Deal — at the helm.WalkingfamilyGreenhills residents taking a stroll. 1938.PHOTO: JOHN VACHON; RETRIEVED FROM THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Delano Steinert has both a personal and academic love of Greenhills, as her grandparents were original owners in the village, having moved there in ‘38. Her aunts and dad all grew up there.

“The story of Greenhills is really important and foundational in the way that American suburbs begin to get created,” she says. “Which then really has a drastic influence on American cities and metropolitan areas rippling forward even today.”

She also knew that as the original neighbors aged, their stories were at risk of being lost. Through the site, she hopes to preserve those memories for future historians. Working with the Greenhills Historical Society, the students were able to gain access to willing interviewees.

One of those was Stanley Wernz; raised about three miles outside the village on a farm, he attended Greenhills’ public schools.

“It was a wonderful community; everyone cared about someone else,” he recalls in his interview. “If I got involved in some difficulty, often, my mother knew about it before I got home. There would be somebody who called and say, ‘You know, you need to talk to him about this.’”

He shares idyllic memories of playing kick-the-can in the cornfields with his siblings and participating in the high school’s band, where he played the trumpet, baritone horn and sousaphone.

Many of the other interviewees recalled similar, fond memories: playing in the scout cabin local dads built from old telephone poles, spending entire summer days splashing and lounging at the pool, taking the bus to downtown Cincinnati and shopping at department stores like Shillito’s. Visitors of the website can explore these spaces via a map that pinpoints various Greenhills landmarks.8b29443v(1)The shopping center in Greenhills, Ohio. 1938.PHOTO: JOHN VACHON; RETRIEVED FROM THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Re-listening to the interviews, Delano Steinert says, “The real feeling is that in the early years of Greenhills it was this incredible feeling of closeness and mutual support and that everyone was sort of pitching in to help one another.”

But Delano Steinert also notes that there was “some lament over the way Greenhills has changed over time.” That sense of tight-knit community has now seemingly petered out, for an array of reasons.

“One of the key reasons is that when the government selected residents of Greenhills, they engineered it,” she says. “They engineered it in two ways: They physically built it into the environment — the form of the town encourages community — but they also hand-picked the residents.”

The result was a homogeneous group of people, which meant that the community excluded others, including people of color.

“The beauty and amazing gift that was Greenhills to the families that got to experience it came at the expense of those who didn’t get to experience it,” Delano Steinert says.8b14049vA prospective family being interviewed in the family selection office. 1938.PHOTO: JOHN VACHON; RETRIEVED FROM THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Wernz points to this in his interview, saying that the prejudice disturbed him. As a fourth grader, he remembers going to the pool with one of his classmates, who was black, that lived south of the village.

“They sold me my ticket, and I went in and I stopped to wait for him and they would not sell him a ticket,” Wernz says. “I didn’t have the gumption to say, ‘Well, then I can’t go either.’ And that bothers me to this day. I didn’t stand up for that kid, and he was my friend.”

The ages of the subjects mostly hits in the 80s-range, with Thomas Haverland (who moved to Greenhills as a teenager) — who is in his 90s — being the oldest, and Glory Southland Green, in her late-50s, being the youngest.

In the village’s 80th year, Delano Steinert has a new appreciation for the importance of collecting the residents’ stories. When she first started the project she hoped to interview her aunt, who lived in California. But she passed away in June of this year.

“I didn’t get to include her story, which was a bummer,” she says. “But it just brings home the point of doing oral histories, which is that these great stories —  these rich lived experiences, memories that no one else has — can just be extinguished in a moment.”

Now that the project is over and the site is live (, Delano Steinert says it’s being handed over to the Greenhills Historical Society so they can add additional interviews if they’d like.


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Help Save the New Deal Turtle Fountain

The New Mexico Chapter of the New Deal Preservation Association (NNDPA) is acquiring funds to restore a New Deal fountain created in the 1930’s by Santa Fe sculptor, Eugenie Shonnard, for the courtyard of what was the Carrie Tingley Hospital for Crippled Children in Truth or Consequences, NM. Now called the New Mexico Veterans Home, this facility is dedicated to older and physically challenged veterans, as the state’s only veterans nursing home. For more information, contact Kathy Flynn at NNDPA.

Name: ______________________________


Phone: ______________________________

Thank you for your donation of $ ______________

Please mail to us at NNDPA, NM Chapter

New Deal Grandchildren Speak



A Panel of direct descendants of major New Dealers will discuss the importance of their grandparents’ legacy to the 21st century at the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, at 4 p.m., Saturday, August 19th, 2017. Participants will include James Roosevelt, Jr., David Wallace Douglas, Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall and June Hopkins.

This special gathering will be jointly hosted by the FDR Presidential Library  and the National New Deal Preservation Association.  The Panel, to be held in the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center, will be moderated by Christopher N. Breiseth, board member of the NNDPA and former president and CEO of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

At the reception following the Panel, other members of the families of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry A. Wallace, Frances Perkins, Harry Hopkins and Frank Walker will be recognized.

At 3 p.m., before the Panel, the NNDPA will present the Kathy Flynn Preservation Awards.  Randall Wallace, grandson of Vice President Wallace, will give a concert at 7 p.m.

The FDR Library staff is excited to collaborate with the NNDPA for this program and expects a large audience, with possible national broadcast of the Panel.

All events are free and open to the public.

Whitney Plantation

Louisiana News – Whitney Plantation

The Whiteny Plantation museum facility has a collection of the Federal Writer’s Project’s “Slave Narratives”  copies obtained via National Archives .  Located at  5099 Louisiana Hwy 18. Edgard, LA 70049. Originally a plantation as of 1752 but John Cummings spent 16 years planning and implementing this museum.  Film about museum on  Contact person: Ashley Rogers 225-265-3300. “Telling the Story of Slavery.” New Yorker Magazine. Feb 17, 2016.  Author: Kalim Armstrong

Aimee Goram Wood Mural

Aimee Goram Mural Restored!

Public unveiling of the newly restored 1938 wood marquetry mural at Chapman Elementary School “Send Us Forth to be Builders of a Better World” by Aimee Gorham
The entrance foyer of Chapman Elementary has been graced with the work of Aimee Spencer Gorham since 1938 when the large format wood marquetry mural titled Send Us Forth to be Builders of a Better World was installed there, but almost 80 years of accumulated soiling, wear, and vandalism had obscured the exquisite and glowing figural effects of the wood grains in the mural. On Thursday, Dec. 1st, from 6-8 pm, The Chapman PTA, Neighbors West-Northwest and Heritage Conservation Group will invite the public to view the mural in its newly restored condition. Conservation of the murals was made possible by funding through the State of Oregon’s Oregon Heritage Grant, the Juan Young Trust, the Autzen Foundation and community donations. The unveiling event is sponsored by Neighbors West-Northwest and organized by the Chapman PTA.

During the unveiling event, talks will be given by art historian Bonnie Laing Malcolmson on Aimee Gorham, Heritage Conservation Group president Nina Olsson on the conservation treatment, and Dr. Suzana Radivojevic, wood scientist with the U of O Historic Preservation Program, on Gorham’s the use of wood veneer and plywood in the historic context of the wood products industry of the Pacific Northwest. There will also be a dedication of a new Auditorium sign by Butch Miller, of the American Marquetry Association.

Aimee Gorham is best known for her work at the Timberline Lodge, the largest and most ambitious New Deal project of the area, where two of her pieces grace the walls of that temple to rustic regionalism. Under WPA programs, Gorham produced murals for Oregon State University’s School of Forestry, numerous Portland Public schools, regional art centers in Oregon, and for the New York World’s Fair in 1939. She established a workshop of furniture makers from Timberline Lodge that executed her designs into the 1950s.

Gorham only recently has come to be is considered a significant regional artist, despite never having received adequate recognition. This may have been due to now outdated concepts in art criticism during the mid and late 20th century, that considered her technical medium, wood marquetry, a decorative or “minor art”. Not to be overlooked is her identity as a female artist, which also may have contributed to her lack of critical fortune due to gender bias.

Learn more about this significant piece of work Come at the educational community event on Thursday, Dec. 1st, from 6-8 pm at the Chapman Elementary School Auditorium, 1445 NW 26th Ave, Portland, OR 97210. Appetizers and child friendly activities will be provided.

NM CCC Statue Dedication

Exciting news – Bandelier, NM CCC Statue Dedication 2016

Click on the link below to learn more about the Bandelier, NM CCC Statue Dedication 2016 ceremony

Bandelier, NM CCC Statue Dedication 2016

Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Poster for the stage adaptation of It Can’t Happen Here, October 27, 1936 at the Lafayette Theater as part of the Detroit Federal Theater
An invitation from Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Berkeley Repertory Theatre invites you to take part in a nationwide reading of It Can’t Happen Here.
To see the full letter please click here –ichh-community-letter-brt-pdf

We hope you will join us in hosting a staged reading in your own community on the evening of Monday October 24th. We have made arrangements with the Lewis estate to allow one-night readings of the play to be mounted without payment of any licensing fee during that week.

In 1935, Sinclair Lewis wrote It Can’t Happen Here, a novel that imagines the rise of fascism in America. Concerned about race riots, a huge income gap between the rich and the poor, the stigmatizing of immigrants, global terror, and a right-wing extremist running for president, Lewis’ novel reads like it was ripped out of today’s headlines. Whether he’s describing Buzz Windrip, the demagogue who wins the presidency based on the promise of making our country great again, or Doremus Jessup, a liberal newspaper editor who simply waits too long to take Windrip seriously, Lewis’ understanding of our political system was precise and far-reaching. Reading the book now is somewhat shocking, if only because it’s impossible to dismiss our current situation as an aberration. As one of the characters in the book says, the problem’s not Windrip [read: Trump]; “it’s the sickness that made us throw him up that we’ve got to attend to.”

Shortly after publication of the novel, Lewis wrote a play by the same name for the Federal Theatre Project. On October 27, 1936, the play opened in 21 cities across the United States. It created a sensation, not because of its dramatic value (which is unfortunately lacking), but because of its message.

We hope to reclaim the excitement of the original production and rectify the shortcomings of the script. Berkeley Rep is opening our season with an entirely new adaptation of the novel, created by Tony Taccone and Bennett Cohen. Lisa Peterson will direct. It will run September 23, 2016 through the election. We have uploaded the rehearsal script to a drop box for your perusal. Please go to the Dropbox at…

If you decide to participate we ask that you notify us. We will provide a sample press release, editable artwork for a poster, horizontal and vertical ads, cast breakdown and an updated script. If you would prefer to use the original Lewis play, that is in the public domain and you are welcome to use that as well. What is most important to us is that It Can’t Happen Here should happen in as many communities as possible!

No admission may be charged per the arrangement with the Lewis estate. We hope to generate local and national press.

Please consider being part of this project. Let us know if we can add your date, time and location to our calendar.

You may respond to Sarah McArthur at  / cell 415-307-3374 to signify interest, ask questions, and receive access to the Dropbox that will contain material to assist you in producing and promoting your reading.

Century of Design

Former CCC Workers with Current AmeriCorps Workers, Leeds, Utah
Photo by Harvey Smith, September 2011

Read Harvey Smith’s article, Century of Design: Remembering the New Deal in the Parks, Harvey L. Smith

Century of Design

CCC Centre County, PA

Civilian Conservation Corps workers pour concrete for the Poe Valley dam. The CCC camps helped to build Poe Valley State Park during the Great Depression. Photo provided

CCC Stories shared at Centre County PA event

The CCC Centre County, PA shared stories thanks to the Historical Society  on August 14, 2016 at the Poe Valley State Park.



Civilian Conservation Service Corps


NNDPA frequently hears the following: “We could sure use another CCC program to help homeless people today.” We totally approve of this suggestion but are happy to report that there are some existing programs that are quite similar but not nearly as large in numbers of participants and not fully government-funded and no Army run camps like done in the CCC. The Department of Interior supports this new youth initiative and little known existing legislation H.R.1966 was introduced April 22, 2015 -21st Century Civilian Conservation Service Corps and is attempting approve legislation “to authorize the President to reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps as a means of providing gainful employment to unemployed and underemployed citizens of the U.S. through the performance of useful public work and for other purposes.”
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps-contact info is here and a list of their 21 CSC-partners can be found on that website. The charter of this group calls for it to develop “national partnerships to support 21 CC.” These partnerships with national and local non-profit and for-profit organization support the development and implementation of the 21 CSC to reach its goal of engaging 100,000 young people and veterans per year in conservation service. There are nearly 200 different but similar programs to the CCC located all over the country. For example, by state there are the following number of programs:
California -21
Colorado 15
Connecticut -2
D.C. -7
Massachusetts- 4
North Carolina-2
New York -6
New Mexico -8
New Jersey-2
Nevada -3
South Carolina -1
West Virginia-1
Wyoming -1

Not all of the programs are Accredited Corps. Approximately 21 of the programs are accredited. The accreditation process is overseen by The Corps Center of Excellence , a subsidiary of The Corps Network; the National Assoc. of Service and Conservation Corps. Accreditation is granted to Corps that have undergone an in-depth review of their general operations, financial management, risk management, and governance standards and have demonstrated accountability to both Corps members and the communities in which they operate. Accreditation is available only for organizations that meet the definition of a Corps. Some contact programs and staff that can share more about this whole subject include:

The CCC Legacy –Joan Sharpe, Director
Conservation Legacy—Durango, CO. Director: Harry Buell 970-403-1149
The Corps Network –Washington, D.C. Director: Mary Ellen Sprekel.
Corporation for National and Community Service Chief of External Affairs: Ted Miller