After 77 years of service, low income public housing complex Gonzales Gardens is bulldozed.
Gonzales Gardens, which was built in 1939 initially as a housing solution for family members of non-commissioned officers stationed at Ft. Jackson and low income citizens, was named after the Gonzales Brothers (William Elliot, Ambrose Elliot and Narciso Gener) who accomplished many notable feats in their lives such as founding one of our nation’s oldest newspapers in production; South Carolina's very own "The State Newspaper”. In its original fashion, Gonzalez Gardens was a "whites-only" complex with 236 units. It wasn't until 1942 that 44 additional units were built to make the total 280 units. Gonzales Gardens and its sister complex Allen Benedict Court, which was a "blacks-only" complex cost a total of 1.8 million to construct.
Gonzales Gardens Original Site Map (Source: Columbia Housing Authority)
Generations of productive Columbia residents have lived in Gonzales Gardens, such as basketball star and coach Tyrone Corbin and social activist Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Bernadin who was named as the Archbishop of Chicago in 1982. The razing of Gonzales Gardens was inevitable, thanks to its blatantly apparent aging/outdated infrastructure and high levels of localized crime. Many of the residents of Gonzales Gardens were disabled and the lack of showers, air conditioning, and routes for emergency personnel caused Gonzales Gardens to be a literal hell during South Carolina summers. In its final years "The Gardens" have carried a negative reputation and has been frequently labeled as "hood", "ghetto" or "the projects" by many financially fortunate Columbia residents, many more have simply called it home.