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Sumner Field Housing Project Collection M/A 2000.190.01-03

Sumner Field Housing Project Collection M/A 2000.190.01-03

Creator:Sumner Field Homes Federal Housing Project. (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Title: Sumner Field Housing Project Collection
Dates:Bulk, 1936-19391924-1945
Quantity: 3.0 boxes
Repository: James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library


The first government built and operated housing development in Minneapolis was Sumner Field. It was built in 1938. It consisted of 44 two story row houses and foun three story apartment buildings in municipal park-like setting. It was a government effort to clear slums, address a housing shortage and create construction jobs during the Great Depression. Private landlords opposed it.

Sumner Field was the oldest, largest and second of four housing complexes demolished under the settlement of a lawsuit (1995 Hollman settlement) alleging that public agencies discriminated by concentrating minorities in inner-city public housing.

Sumner Field was razed in 1998. It was replaced by the Heritage Park Housing Development, built between 2002-2009. Heritage Park is roughly bounded by Lyndale, Emerson, Third and 10th Avenues North.

The early residents of Sumner Field were predominately Jewish along with some African-Americans. African-Americans and Southeast Asians made up the majority of residents immediately before Sumner Field was razed.

Sumner's most famous residents were the musician Prince Rodger Nelson and Richard Green who at one time led the Minneapolis and New York school systems.

Description of Collection

This collection includes materials from the Sumner Field Housing Project. Box one consists of scrapbooks of clippings dating from 1936-1939 and a photo album showing houses from the area to be razed. Boxes two and three include the cornerstone box and contents from the cornerstone box that was opened the summer of 1998 when a new housing development was to begin on the land that was occupied by the Sumner Field Homes. The cornerstone box and contents were given to the Grace Belton, librarian at Sumner Library. In 2002 the Sumner Library staff under Dan Kelty and David McAloney turned the materials over to the MPL Special Collections Dept.

Subject Headings


Public housing -- Minnesota -- Minneapolis -- History.
Urban renewal -- Minnesota -- Minneapolis -- History.


Sumner-Glenwood Neighborhood (Minneapolis, Minn.) -- History.

Table of Contents

Scrapbook I. Sumner Field Housing Project, orange colored ca. 8 1/2" x 11", ca. 10 pages. 1936-1937 -- Box 1
Scope and Contents note
Scrapbook of clippings concerning federal funding, the work on clearing the site including the eviction and displacement of residents from the homes and businesses. Also included are clippings on prospective tenants of the new housing project.
Photo Album, Sumner Field Housing Project, gold colored ca. 8 1/2" x 11", ca. 10 pages. 1939 -- Box 1
Scope and Contents note
Small photographs (2" x 2") of houses and businesses on the project site prior to the development of the Sumner Fields Housing Project. Houses are from the following streets: Emerson houses facing west, Jewett Place facing east, Jewett Place facing west, 6th Avenue North facing south, Lyndale Place, Aldrich Avenue North, and Basset Place. About 16 photos per page.
Scrapbook II, Sumner Field Housing Project, orange colored ca. 8 1/2" x 11", ca. 10 pages long. 1937-1938 -- Box 1
Scope and Contents note
Scrapbook of clippings concerning the raising of the old buildings and rising of the housing project, includes progress chart map revised as of 5-24-37, the rent rates of the Sumner Field Apartments, clippings of the development of the Olson Highway and dislocating residents. Clippings cover Sumner Library's brick addition, improvements, the removing of a section of the library, and moving the library 100 feet for Olson Highway. Also includes clippings about Floyd Olson's birthplace at 1013 Eleventh Avenue North.
Scrapbook III, Sumner Field Housing Project, green colored ca. 8 1/2" x 11", ca. 10 pages long. 1937-1939 -- Box 1
Scope and Contents note
Scrapbook of clippings including articles about the construction of the apartments, wading pool, interior photos of apartments, rent prices, moving into apartments. Also includes eviction issues that delayed the construction of Olson Highway and some brochures and notices concerning Demonstration Apartments, and the Adult Education Center in the Sumner Community Library. Clippings are from the Minneapolis Journal, Minneapolis Spokesman, Twin City Herald, and Council Commentator.
Clippings 1936-1938 -- Box 1
Scope and Contents note
Clipping: "Sumner Field Home: A Partial Fulfillment" by Earl Guy,(Source could be a Minneapolis newspaper like the Minneapolis Journal or the Minnesota Leader, date is February 19, 1938). Also includes a clipping from a newspaper (no date). The captions are "Hut Dwellers at Sixth Avenue N and Basset Street work in "Paradise Lost." And, "When housing project looks like this it will be called "Paradise Regained." (Quonset Huts). And, photocopy of photo from the Minnesota Historical Societies Collection, titled, "Collecting firewood at the site of a house demolished for the Sumner Field Project, 1936."
Cornerstone box: copper box. 14 x 3 x 9 inches -- Box 2
Contents from cornerstone box: reports and letters -- Box 3, Folder 1
Scope and Contents note
History of the Sumner Field Federal Housing Project as prepared by the City Planning Commission, 1936. Bound in brown/grey paper ca. 11" x 8 1/2" -35 pages.
Letters of January 14, 1937: F.H. Stevens, Chairman, Advisory Committee, Sumner Field Homes: Re Capital Cost from the Sub-Committee. Bound in brown/grey paper ca 11" x 8 1/2" -4 pages.
Charles Sumner: Memoir and Eulogies by Bishop Gilbert Haven and the Eulogies Pronounced by Eminent Men. Edited by William M. Cornell, LL.D., 1874. Bound in brown/grey paper ca 11" x 8 1/2"-20 pages.
Plat map: Improvement plan of Sumner Field-Board of Park Commission. 18" x 24" (folded to ca. 8 1/2" x 11" x 15"). -- Box 3, Folder 2
Miscellaneous 1924-1938 -- Box 3, Folder 3
Scope and Contents note
Zoning ordinance of the city of Mpls, Dec 26, 1924. Paper folded size to ca. 8 1/2" 14".
Plat map of lands in the city recently annexed. Dated June 4, 1928. Ca. 7" tall x 17".
Ballot prepared by the Democratic State Central Committee for the general election November 8th. 3" x 6" blue color on back side.
Program from ground breaking dated Wednesday, June 17, 1936, size ca. 5" x 7".
Memo from Walter Butler Company (St. Paul), November 8, 1938 to the cornerstone openers about why and when the Sumner Field Homes Housing Project was undertaken. Second page is a list of people from the Department of the Interior, US Housing Authority, November 8, 1938 and envelop.
Letter from the president of Walter Butler Company (St. Paul), October 26, 1937. Mr. Butler writes that this was the third project that the company had done for the Public Works Administration (first in MN) and that they commend the PWA for the erection of these demonstrative projects to prove to the various communities that it is possible to erect clean homes such as this for those that at present dwell in slums.
Letter head stationary from the City Planning Commission, three copies.
Mansfield Theatre-playbill. Production of Anna Lucaste, ca 8" tall x 6". 24 pages. Much of the booklet is advertising. Sunday, July 22, 1945 -- Box 3, Folder 4
Minneapolis Leader, Feb 19, 1938 page 7 (full sized paper folded into quarters). Article "The Sumner Field Homes: A Partial Fulfillment." -- Box 3, Folder 5
St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 8, 1938 (folded into quarters). -- Box 3, Folder 6
Photo Album -- Box 3
Scope and Contents note
Photos of various scenes and structures in the area now occupied by the Sumner Field Houses also a photograph of the model of the project being viewed by Minneapolis City Planning Commissioners and general views of the housing project prior to the time of occupying October 1st, 1938. Some of the photos are excellent views of the neighborhood. About 16 pages of photos and title page.

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