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Southbridge, Massachusetts

Southbridge Recollections


The Projects

Chestnut Heights, a Neighborhood Gone Forever - David Stevens

 From 1943 to 1953 a neighborhood, planned for 132 families and known as "the projects," was situated at the southern terminus, though not connected, of Chestnut Street in Southbridge. The housing was created for wartime defense workers and later, also used for returning WWII veterans and their families. In 1943, H.U. Bail was successful bidder for the construction of the first 80 apartments. This first phase cost $159,681. The second phase was constructed in 1947 by reassembling 4 army barracks, that were shipped from a government installation in Newport, RI, creating 52 additional apartments. Because Federal funds dried up, one of the 4 buildings was never finished. Avenues A, B, C, D and later G intersected Federal Avenue, which ran east to west from Morris Street to Warren Street. Avenues E and G were located south of and parallel to Federal Ave. Pictures taken by Holden Studios depicting the "projects" in its final days, just before the buildings were torn down in 1954, are available for viewing at The Southbridge Senior Center. These copies are but a sampling of them.


Lf. to Rt. Barrack type building of phase 2, administrative and maintenance building


Looking down Federal Avenue from Morris Street


On Federal Avenue from Warren Street


Avenue E


Avenue F

 In 1955, the area became home to about 60 families displaced by the flood of that year.
House trailers brought in by the town were easily installed using the water, sewer, and electrical services already in place.
Years later a National Guard Armory was constructed and town recreation fields were created where once the housing "projects" stood.

Credits: Most of the facts, dates, numbers etc. were taken from copies of the Southbridge Evening News of that era. (JEL)
The only exceptions were the street descriptions that were taken from "Manning's Southbridge & Sturbridge Directory" of 1952.
In the article I mention that the photos were taken by Holden Studios.

The photos were provided to the Southbridge Senior Center by the Southbridge Historical Commission (funded by the Town of Southbridge),
where they are presently being displayed.

Thanks for the opportunity to submit.

David Stevens

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