The Vagabond – New Deal projects in Gadsden


New Deal projects were the domestic programs of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1939. The projects took action to bring about immediate economic relief, as well as reforms in industry, agriculture, finance, waterpower, labor and housing and vastly increasing the scope of the federal government’s activities.

The program’s first objective was to alleviate the suffering of the nation’s huge number of unemployed workers. Such agencies as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were established to dispense emergency and short-term governmental aid and to provide temporary jobs, employment on construction projects and youth work in the national forests.

The Living New Deal organization lists all projects in the U.S. Information and photos were obtained from the National Archives.

Carver High School

In 1937, the Public Works Administration funded the construction of the Carver High School for African-American students in Gadsden. It was done under the Public Works Administration (PWA).

City auditorium

In 1935, the Public Works Administration funded the construction of the Municipal Auditorium in Gadsden. It was done under the Public Works Administration.

City water intake

The Works Progress Administration built a water intake for the City of Gadsden, circa 1937.

Civic center lily pond

The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) built a lily pond in the civic center in downtown Gadsden, circa 1937.

Federal building and U.S. Courthouse extension

Originally the Gadsden Post Office, this Beaux-Arts-style building was constructed in 1909. The post office was twice extended, first in 1915 and again during the New Deal through the U.S. Treasury Department. Louis A. Simon was the supervising architect of the second extension.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 3, 1976.

Forrest Cemetery Chapel

Located inside the main gate of Forrest Cemetery on the west side of 15th Street between Walnut and Chestnut streets, the Forrest Cemetery Chapel was constructed as a Works Progress Administration project and designed by Alabama architect Paul W. Hofferbert. The chapel was built by 20 workers who were unskilled at the beginning of the project but completed the building as trained stonemasons. Modeled after an English parish church of the 12th century, the chapel has been appraised at $25,000 yet the total cost of materials was relatively small.

Cement and windows were the only materials purchased. The light fixtures, woodwork, and hardware came from WPA woodshops, and the stone from a nearby quarry. The doors and interior appointments are handmade, and the chapel’s roof is made of sandstone shingles cut to size by hand. In the cemetery, which is owned and maintained by the City of Gadsden, are graves of many Confederate veterans, each marked by an iron Maltese cross. The chapel bears a plaque: “Built by Works Progress Administration 1935 – 1936.” A cornerstone reads the year 1936.

Municipal amphitheater

The Works Progress Administration built the Gadsden Municipal Amphitheater in 1935. Built from locally-sourced stone, the facility was designed by Hofferbert. The WPA cost was $17,316. The structure is still in service today and was re-named Mort Glosser Amphitheater. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Main Street improvements

The Works Progress Administration re-surfaced Main Street, or Broad Street in Gadsden in 1937.

National Guard Armory

The Works Progress Administration built the National Guard Armory in Gadsden. The building no longer exists.

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