09 April 2013

Comfort in Lincoln Park


On the first day without employment....or I guess I should say the first day of self-employment, I received an email about another National Register nomination.  I thought, sure I'm interested, I'll ride this as far as God wants to take me.  It was a New Deal project in Mishawaka on the Saint Joseph River.

The Lincoln Park Comfort Station was constructed in Lincoln Park in 1934 by the Civil Works Administration (CWA).  It was part several projects constructed in Mishawaka by the CWA, and part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal program, that provided jobs to Americans left struggling financially by the Great Depression.  The Lincoln Park Comfort Station was constructed to provide additional amenities to Lincoln Park, sandwiched between the Lincoln Highway and St. Joseph River at the west edge of Mishawaka.

For all us Hoosiers who complain about FDR and the New Deal-some interesting stats reveal that our ancestors felt much differently.  Indiana ranked as one of the top beneficiaries of wages paid out.  By the end of 1933, 104,000 persons had been given employment throughout Indiana under the CWA banner with a weekly payroll of $4,500,000.  The first week of January, 1934, South Bend, Mishawaka and the townships of St. Joe County, showed 4,742 men who were receiving weekly wages amounting to nearly $75,000 from federal funds.  Given that, the actual average weekly pay per employee was about $15.82.
 
An article in the South Bend Tribune from 1934 was a bit prophetic if you ask me:  "only the passage of time will reveal to the fullest extent the lasting benefits that may be derived from the gigantic CWA program".  As well we know, the benefits are unmeasurable.
The CWA and other New Deal, get America back to work, programs used materials readily available for construction of stone walls, buildings and other park related structures.  Often the public works projects in Northern Indiana used native granite fieldstone for structure and building materials.  In other parts of the state, other locally quarried or available material was used such as limestone or sandstone.  The materials were then adapted and configured into an architectural style that became identified as "Park Rustic".

1 comment:

Jim said...

According to an online inflation calculator, that average 1934 wage is worth $274.09 today. Not great money, but way better than nothing.