1938 to 2013 – Greendale Starts Celebrating 75th Anniversary!

Week #39: The partying has begun! Greendale’s 75th Anniversary year is finally here. Community organizations, churches, schools, along with the Public Celebrations and 75th Anniversary Committee have activities planned throughout the entire year.

History records and explains past events, while folklore preserves what people widely remember.

History and Folklore!

The story of the Greendale is truly a unique one. Three Greenbelt towns were built as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal projects following the Great Depression. They were Greenbelt, Maryland, Greenhills, Ohio and Greendale, Wisconsin. The most important aspect of these towns was to provide low income families with affordable housing to raise their children in a safe environment and have large open "green" spaces.

In May of 1936 construction began on the 366 buildings with 572 total living units for Greendale. Public interest during the building of this planned community was phenomenal, with over a half million visitors between September 1936 and August 1937. Once completed the Federal Government became the landlord. Applicants had to meet certain requirements specified by the Federal Government. In Wisconsin applicants had to earn between $1,200 and $2,700. On April 17, 1938 the first tenants were accepted and on April 30, 1938 the first families began moving into Greendale despite a movers strike (see Week#70).  

On May 1, 1938 Greendale Village Hall and the village were officially open for business.

It was decided by the people living here at that time that Greendale should be governed by an elected President and an elected Board of Trustees. Rather than elect a mayor the village board hired a Village Manager to manage the day to day operations of the village. On November 1, 1938 Greendale was incorporated and began operating as an independent community with minimal guidance by the federal government.

As the all-out effort to support World War II became the emphasis for President Roosevelt and the nation, the New Deal programs were slowly dropped or transitioned. After the war, the Federal Government decided to get out of the landlord business and the ‘Greenbelt Towns’ were put up for sale. In 1953 a group of businessmen formed the Milwaukee Community Development Corporation (MCDC) and purchased Greendale from the Federal Government for approximately 10 million dollars (see Week#72). Now, seventy-five years later, Greendale is ready to celebrate its rich history.

  • Greendale’s 75th Diamond Celebration – Official Invitation

The Greendale Public Celebration Committee, working under the direction of the Village President and Board of Trustees, welcomes you to Greendale’s 75th Anniversary Year. The message for every resident, former resident, business, neighboring community and history buff is:

                Let the Partying Begin!


  • 75th Commemorative Book – Go to Guide for Village events throughout 2013

By now every household in Greendale has received a copy of the 75th Commemorative Book. This book was developed by the Public Celebrations & 75th Anniversary Committees with enormous help from many, many others. The paid advertisers in the book made it possible to distribute this book to every household free of charge. Please thank them and patronize their businesses whenever possible.

As you page through this book, read the messages from Village and School leaders, the short history of Greendale’s beginning, and the descriptions of the services provided by the Village Departments. Check out all the recreational and historic places to visit in the area. Note all the wonderful schools, organizations, clubs, churches, and veteran’s groups that make Greendale a great place to live and raise a family. Keep this book handy all year so you can refer to the middle pages for the calendar of all the 75th Anniversary Community events in 2013. Join in all the fun and show how much Greendale is 'Still Sparkling After All These Years'.

Editor’s Note: Additional 75th Commemorative Books can be purchased for $5 each at the Greendale Visitor Center, the Greendale Public Library, and on the website www.greendalecelebrations.org

But did you know?

Some of you may be wondering where we have been for the last month and a half. The 75th Birthday Countdown abruptly ended at Week#40 until today. We apologize for that. The effort to put out the 75th Commemorative Book consumed so much of our time we found it difficult to keep up. If you missed us, we missed you also.

This week the description of the story refers to Week#39. It is actually fewer weeks than 39 to Greendale Village Days 2013. So we  have some catching up to do and will publish a few extra stories over the next couple of weeks. We still plan on 75 stories for 75 weeks culminating with Week#1 on August 5, 2013.

People, Past & Present!

We’ve talked about the Greendale Public Celebrations Committee and the 75th Anniversary sub-committee. Early on in the planning for Greendale’s 75th Diamond Celebration this mission statement was developed:    

"To promote the history of the Village of Greendale, encourage the making of new memories of our current residents and foster the future ideas that will continue to make the Village a great place to live and raise a family."

The following individuals have worked very hard planning the Village Celebrations for 2013, and will continue their efforts to make this year’s party a memorable one for everyone. 

Greendale Public Celebrations Committee:

Carolann Matzek (PCC Co-Chairperson), Donna Ouellette (PCC Co-Chairperson), Dave Bauer (75th Products & Fund Raising), Karyn Birmingham, Suzette Brahm, Nancy Steber Brezinski, Mary Ellen Clinton, James Clinton, Betty Frechoff, Chuck Jambor (75th Entertainment Team), William ‘Bill’ Kewan (Historical), Sheryl Meyer Patzke (Parade Co-Coordinator), Terry Patzke (Parade Co-Coordinator), Sharon Rzentkowski, Carie ‘Hat Lady’ Weston, Noelle Joers-Yanisch, Colleen Fechtmeyer (PCC/75th Co-Chairperson), David Miller (PCC/75th Co-Chairperson), Kathryn Kasza (Village of Greendale Clerk Treasurer)

75th Anniversary Team Members:

Debbie Bauer, Teri Bill (75th Products Team), Sally & Jay Chadwick, Jason Dembosky (75th Photography Team), Gary Fedder (75th Community Events), Matt Fechtmeyer, Jim Gill, Sarah Jankowski (Assistant to Village Manager), Lenore Lenten (Chamber of Commerce), Sherry Maierle (Chamber of Commerce), Katie Petersen (Greendale Schools), Steve Peters (Graphics Design), Eileen Soto (Webmaster), Grace Redovich

** Week #39 contributors: Greendale Historical Society, Library of Congress, Steve Peters, Jason Dembosky

Nicki January 09, 2013 at 03:09 PM
We received the commemorative booklet and have been enjoying it immensely. My sister and I live together in the "R" section. She's been a Greendale resident for 38 years. Her children grew up in the wonderful school system and both are successful adults. I've lived here for almost 25 years and I wouldn't live anywhere else. I had the opportunity to rent an original for two years and I really enjoyed being just a backyard away from Broad Street and the Village center. My sis and I now own a house that we plan to stay in for good. It's a privelege and a pleasure to be a citizen of an historical community like Greendale. We are looking forward to the fesitivities!
karen ballman January 14, 2013 at 01:04 AM
my son goes to school in greendale. I can't say enough good things about his education. We have come to many events since he was young. He even won a costume contest and met some original munchkins from the wizard of oz when he was young. he still has the book.
Michael Michna January 22, 2013 at 09:24 PM
I think my "Eleanor Roosevelt" presentation would be a nice addition to the festivities. Jessica www.historicalfirstimpressions.com


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