Roosevelt Hall was constructed in 1937 to support University Homes in Atlanta, Georgia, the first housing project for African Americans fully funded by the federal government. The building was envisioned by faculty of the adjacent historically Black colleges and universities of the Atlanta University Center, including W. E. B. Du Bois, as a community building to build community, a space where the public housing residents could cultivate the skills they needed to engage in the collective fight for enfranchisement in Jim Crow Georgia. As Christina E. Crawford describes in Black Community Building: New Deal Programmatic Advocacy at Atlanta’s University Homes, Roosevelt Hall’s history demonstrates the transformative impact of local pressure on architecture. The story begins with the planning of University Homes, moves through a discussion of extant political activism on Atlanta’s West Side that affected the project’s development, and ends with the remodeling of the building’s upper floor, within a year of its completion, from a conventional cellular office configuration to a modern open plan appropriate for social, economic, and political education. Public housing projects overseen by federal authorities during the New Deal were not monolithic propositions—they offered opportunities for intervention in siting, sponsorship, and programming that Atlanta’s Black reformers exploited.

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