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Sun, 12.02.1928

Conant Gardens Community formed

*Conant Gardens is celebrated on December 2, 1928.  This is a Black neighborhood in northeast Detroit, Michigan. 

The community was not very densely populated until the 1920s due to the boom of the automobile industry. Named after reluctant abolitionist Shubael Conant, Conant Gardens was to be developed for white collar Ford workers, but there was a lack of interest. However, the industrial boom also led to a large, prosperous Black population, who could not find neighborhoods in which they could safely live, due to violence and covenant restrictions. 

Around 1928, a number of Blacks people took advantage the areas lack of deed restrictions for Blacks who wished to purchase property.  Historically, the neighborhood was the most prosperous Black neighborhood in that city, and its residents of were the most highly educated in the area.  Conant Gardens is in northeast Detroit, Michigan located just west of Detroit's Krainz Woods neighborhood.  It is located between Conant Street and the City of Highland Park, north of the City of Hamtramck. Seven Mile Road served as the boundary between Conant Gardens and a White working-class area.  The neighborhood boundaries are Conant Street, East Seven Mile, Ryan Road, and East Nevada Street.  It is located almost 8 miles from Paradise Valley.  Due to its close proximity to Krainz Woods that neighboring community is sometimes mistaken as being within Conant Gardens. Pershing High School is located in Conant Gardens, in proximity to the residential area. 

In the early 1940s the community protested against the construction of the Sojourner Truth Housing project, a federally funded public housing project. The residents of Conant Gardens allied with nearby white homeowners associations; Thomas J. Sugrue, author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, characterizes the alliance as "unlikely"  In 1966, the Whites in Krainz Woods wanted to recruit middle class Blacks in Conant Gardens to oppose public housing.  The Krainz Woods Neighborhood Organization, posted, in a Black newspaper, an advertisement asking for Conant Gardens residents to go to a meeting at an area church to protest a proposed scattered-site housing and open occupancy.  

Thomas J. Sugrue, author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, said that in its heyday Conant Gardens was "more suburban than urban, surrounded by open fields and remote from the city's business and industrial districts."  The neighborhood had single family detached houses, many of which had large lawns. The streets were lined with trees. Sugrue said that the houses were modern, the lawns were "well-manicured" and the streets were "quiet".  In the 1940s and 1950s many of the residents had moved to Conant Gardens. They included business people, lawyers, ministers, and teachers.  

In 1950, in terms of all neighborhoods with over 500 Black persons, the median income of black families and unrelated individuals of the tracts 603 and 604, respectively, were the highest in Detroit; the tracts correspond to Conant Gardens. That year, 60% of the residents owned their houses.  Historically the residents had covenants that banned multi-family housing and other "undesirable uses" from Conant Gardens but never had deed restrictions that prohibited Black people from living there.  In 2001 the Conant Gardeners Club was writing a book about the neighborhood.

It is zoned to Detroit Public Schools. Residents are zoned to Mason K-8 School for elementary and middle school.  All residents are zoned to Pershing High School.  The current Mason was the former Farwell Elementary-Middle School. The previous Mason Elementary School closed in 2012 and consolidated into Farwell.  Previously Conant Gardens was zoned to Atkinson Elementary School.  At a later point it was zoned to Van Zile Elementary School.  Residents were previously zoned to Farwell K-8 for middle school.  

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