Booker Homes

From FranaWiki

The Joseph A. Booker Homes is a defunct low-income housing development constructed by the Little Rock Housing Authority in the early 1950s with "urban renewal" funds available under Title I of the Housing Act of 1949. The development is named for former Arkansas Baptist College president Joseph A. Booker. The development included four hundred homes for black families. The funds were matched by park revenue bonds for improvements nearby blacks-only Gillam Park. Booker homes is in the Granite Mountain neighborhood.

Debate over local urban renewal and its funding was vigorous, rivaling the debate over integration later in the decade. Conservatives dubbed urban renewal "socialistic." Liberals called it "Negro removal." Adolphine Terry, who organized a citizen's Committee for Progress, called it "an exercise in responsible democracy and a solution to health problems among the poor." A referendum on the issue passed on May 9, 1950, with majority black support.

Gillam Park was upgraded from an undeveloped lot to include a swimming pool, pavilions, baseball diamond, and small amusement park. In return, the federal government supplied $3 million funds for the Booker Homes project in the Granite Mountain neighborhood near the east end of Gillam Park. The project included 400 homes for black families.

In September 1952 the public housing project was joined by the blacks-only Booker High School in the Pulaski County Special School District. Soon thereafter the school was forcibly incorporated into the Little Rock School District by passage of a special bill of the Arkansas General Assembly.

Booker Homes leveled

Booker homes was demolished in the mid-1990s. The Booker Homes site was formally leased by the City of Little Rock to Audubon Arkansas in February 2007. The site will become the 2,000 acre Little Rock Nature Center.


  • Andy Davis, "Audubon to Get Land After 4-Year Holdup; 68 Acres to Host LR Nature Center, Lab," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 22, 2007.
  • John A. Kirk, "'A Study in Second-Class Citizenship': Race, Urban Development and Little Rock's Gillam Park, 1934-2004," Arkansas Historical Quarterly 64.3 (Autumn 2005): 279-280.
  • Sara Alderman Murphy, Breaking the Silence: Little Rock's Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools, 1958-1963 (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997), 20-23.

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