Marksdale Gardens I&II

by Andrew Hatt

Marksdale Gardens I was the first housing development completed within the Washington Park Urban Renewal Area. Eighty-two units of cluster homes were completed on Crestwood Park and Humboldt Avenue towards the end of 1964. St. Mark’s church oversaw the development of the moderate-income homes on the 3.5-acre site. Ultimately, 15 homes were destroyed to make way for the development, which was designed by Associated Architects and Engineers, a minority owned an operated architectural firm. Forty-one units were arranged in clusters and built around a horseshoe shaped private way called Crestwood Park. The longest cluster was situated into rows with the backs of the units facing Humboldt Avenue and Townsend Street.

As soon as the first phase of housing, Marksdale Gardens I, was completed, the St. Mark’s Development team began taking the necessary steps to complete a second phase of development across Humboldt Avenue called Marksdale Gardens II. There, 94 cluster homes would be built between Humboldt Avenue, Townsend Street and the area that was to be occupied by the cross-town highway, built to connect the Southeast Expressway with I-95. Sixty-one one and two family homes, St. Mark’s Church and its adjacent social center were demolished to make way for the new homes and adjacent parking. Associated Architects and Engineers was called on again to design eight blocks of cluster housing, all of which faced interior common areas on Hazelwood and Elbert Streets. Financed by St. Mark’s at a cost of $1.107 million, Marksdale Gardens II was ready for occupancy by the end of 1965. Ultimately, these homes would be clustered around the new St. Mark’s church, which was completed in 1969. The church, designed by Henry Boles, gives the area the same layout as an English country village.