Conant Gardens is a neighborhood in northeast Detroit, Michigan. Historically, the neighborhood was the most prosperous black neighborhood in that city, and of the black neighborhoods, residents of Conant Gardens were the most highly educated.
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 Krainz Woods Neighborhood Organization, a mostly white organization, posted, in an African-American 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. The Whites in Krainz Woods wanted to recruit middle class blacks in Conant Gardens to oppose public housing.
In 2001 the Conant Gardeners Club was writing a book about the neighborhood.
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 (13 km) from Paradise Valley. Due to its close proximity to Krainz Woods the neighboring community is often mistaken for Conant Gardens. Pershing High School is located in Conant Gardens, in proximity to the residential area.
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".
The Double V Bar, a jazz hall, opened in 1942. The Club Deliese, a jazz hall which was owned by Jewish people and had an African American manager, opened in 1945. It changed its name to the "Club El-Morocco" three years after its opening. Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert, authors of Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60, said that the club remained open until at least 1953 and that Deliese was "the more substantial jazz spot of the two."
In the 1940s and 1950s many of the residents had moved to Conant Gardens. They included businesspeople, 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.
Government and infrastructure
Historically the residents had covenants that banned multi-family housing and other "undesirable uses" from Conant Gardens. The neighborhood never had deed restrictions that prohibited African American people from living there.
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.
- Bjorn, Lars and Jim Gallert. Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60. University of Michigan Press, June 22, 2001. ISBN 0472067656, 9780472067657.
- Shaw, Todd C. Now Is the Time!: Detroit Black Politics and Grassroots Activism. Duke University Press, September 4, 2009. ISBN 0822345080, 9780822345084.
- Sugrue, Thomas J. The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton University Press, August 1, 2005. ISBN 0691121869, 9780691121864.
- Sugrue, p. 41.
- Shaw, p. 44.
- "Conant Gardens produced talent." The Detroit News. June 20, 2001. Retrieved on November 6, 2012. "It's a little-known and inspiring story and it's going to be told in a book. The Conant Gardens neighborhood near Pershing High School never had restrictive deed covenants limiting land parcels to whites only. So, the neighborhood -- from its beginning -- was a tidy enclave of working-class blacks in comfortable homes. Conant Gardens is bounded by East Seven Mile, East Nevada, Ryan and Conant. The Conant Gardeners club is busy writing a book about[...]" - Also in "Conant Gardens' inspiring past comes alive." The Detroit News. June 28, 2001.
- Sugrue, p. 40.
- Bjorn and Gallert, p. 68.
- "Pershing High alums celebrate 75 years." The Detroit News. April 6, 2005. Retrieved on November 6, 2012. "What made Pershing different was that it was built in the Conant Gardens[...]"
- "Elementary Boundaries - 2012/13 School Year." (Archive) Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 6, 2012.
- "Middle School Boundaries - 2012/13 School Year." (Archive) Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 6, 2012.
- "High School Boundaries - 2012/13 School Year." (Archive) Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 6, 2012.
- "6.-Mason-Elementary-School.pdf." (Archive) Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 6, 2012.
- "Elementary School Attendance Areas." Detroit Public Schools. July 10, 2003. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
- "Elementary School Boundary Map." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
- "Middle School Boundary Map." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
- "Middle School Attendance Areas." Detroit Public Schools. July 10, 2003. Retrieved on November 2, 2012.
- "Rich histories of Conant Gardens and all the city need preserving." The Detroit News. October 19, 1999.
- Krains Woods Community Council, n. d. "All Conant Gardens Home Owners Should Attend. Michigan Chronicle (Detroit, MI). Papers of the Commission on Community Relations. Archive of Labor and Human Affairs. Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. "Welfare Rights, 1960s" Box 78, File 28.