Westacres is a thriving modern community with deep roots. Our subdivision is situated within the township of West Bloomfield, MI which was ranked 36 by CNN Money in their 2008 list of best places to live in the USA.
Westacres was built an an experiment sponsored by James Couzens, Michigan’s senator.”The goverment had begun to finance housing projects at the lowest possible cost. Couzens, believed that such housing projects should be located near industrial centers so that workers in industry who were laid off periodically, could supplement their incomes by raising their own produce. A Westacres was his dream of such an ideal community” (Westacres 1936-1938)
There were four goals for the project:
- to provide housing for workers who were seasonally unemployed;
- to make lots available that were large enough for homeowners to have family vegetable gardens;
- to encourage the development of residents’ enterprises on the corporations property; and
- to promote sound and satisfying community life.
Westacres was located on a level tract of 874 acres in an area dotted with small lakes that were used for recreation by Detroit residents. A clubhouse had been built at the northeast corner of the property for an early subdivision and golf course scheme. The federal housing Administration developed plans for 150 houses.
A nearby lake was dredged and the muck from the lake was spread over the poor soil. Twelve design prototypes for two story houses offered … considerable flexibility in siting.
By varying the tree planting, it was also possible to enhance the identity of individual streets. Selecting and placing plants for the thrift gardens at the back of each property, Gillette chose fruit trees, berries and vegetables that were cultivated, sprayed, and fertilized as a cooperative venture. She developed a nursery at the project, making it possible to implement the landscape design at a cost far below prevailing market prices.
The project garnered considerable publicity in the newspapers; in fact, so many visitors came to observe its progress that a chain link fence had to be erected to prevent vandalism. ” ( an extract from “Midwestern Landscape Architecture” by William H. Tishler (2004).)