New Deal architecture faces bulldozer

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GREENHILLS, Ohio | When people talk about green architecture as though it were a new movement, Greg Strupe, a 47-year-old factory worker, just laughs. Strupe lives with his family in one of the first green towns in the United States, built during the Great Depression by unemployed men and women and championed by Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt.

This 1938 village, along with Greenbelt, Maryland, and Greendale, Wisconsin, was created to move struggling families out of nearby cities and into a healthier environment, with shopping, recreation and nearly 200 small modernist apartment buildings and houses surrounded by a forest

Yet change has come. Over protests from residents, officials tore down 52 apartments on the National Register of Historic Places, saying they made the village look down-at-the-heel. Now, signs saying, "Not for Sale" and "Keep Your Hands Off My House" are taped to frosty windows.

Hundreds of buildings commissioned by the Works Progress Administration and Franklin D. Roosevelt's other "alphabet" agencies are being demolished or threatened with destruction, mourned or fought over by small groups of citizens in a new national movement to save the architecture of the New Deal.

Professors, authors and architects have formed the National New Deal Preservation Association. State governments from Arkansas to California are compiling lists of WPA-era projects still standing.

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