Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Beginnings of Roseville Park

Roseville Park, 1937
Because, yes, I am this easily distracted, I wanted to post a few things about the early days of Roseville Park. This was brought to my attention by a comment by Bill Harris, who linked to this article in the News Journal (link may or may not work for you). The gist of it is here:
Planning for the neighborhood of Roseville Park got under way off Kirkwood Highway in 1928, with a few homes done before the Great Depression idled the project and uncounted others nationwide.

The post-World War II boom saw many more homes built in the neighborhood – boasting the oldest continuous civic association in the state – and more recent building brought the total of homes to 179.

From its start, when Kirkwood Highway was two slim lanes, the quiet, almost-hidden neighborhood near Polly Drummond Hill Road – one of the state’s first subdivisions, if not the first – welcomed residents and guests with a brick wall with end post tops engraved “Roseville” and “Park.”
The point of the article was that part of one of those brick pillars had been found in someone's yard, and was rebuilt. A good article, and a good mention of a community that was older than I had realized. In my response to Bill's comment, I had expressed some doubt about the characterization of the development as having "gotten under way off Kirkwood Highway in 1928". (Leaving aside the facts that A) there was no Kirkwood Highway in 1928, and B) technically the road there even today is Capitol Trail, not Kirkwood Highway.)

I don't really have a lot more information about the early days of Roseville Park (named, of course, after the old cotton mill and mill community nearby), but I did find a couple things of interest relating to its beginnings. I figured it was easier just to put everything into a post.

The first thing I wanted to share was the 1937 aerial picture that I mentioned in my comment. If you look at it (above), you can see that the main streets (Laurel, Maple and Rose) appear to be laid out, but there's not much in the way of houses. I can see two, maybe three if the big white one is not a barn. I think those two are still there, but I'm not convinced that at least one of them doesn't pre-date the development.

Since there were not more than two or three houses standing as late as '37, I had my doubts about how much it had actually "gotten under way" in 1928. As it turns out, the 1928 date is, if anything, a little late. The newspaper ad below ran in The Sunday Morning Star on October 17, 1926.

The ad, I think, pretty much speaks for itself. It shows that lots were being offered for sale in October 1926, although, of course, we don't know how many they actually sold. The next spring they were back at it again, as shown by this ad, also from The Sunday Morning Star, dated May 1, 1927.

Despite the ad's claims, I don't think houses were quite yet "springing up here and there", and it never exactly became a city. I'd be curious to know how many lots they did sell. I have a feeling that this venture, like countless others, was derailed mostly by the events of October 1929. It seems reasonable to assume that there was little development done on the site between then and 1946 at the earliest. That being said, when construction did restart after the war and the great suburban migration began, Roseville Park was probably well set-up to get in on the early action. And unlike earlier developments like The Cedars which were basically trolley suburbs, I would believe that Roseville Park was one of the first developments in the area planned strictly with the automobile in mind. It seems like, through no fault of its own, it stayed more or less in the planning phase for about twenty years -- more of an idea than a neighborhood. Once the world got back to normal, though, it turned into a pleasant little community that's now been home to several generations of Mill Creek Hundred families.


  1. Does anyone remember/know what was on the corner where the offices are now?

    1. If my memory is correct (an iffy proposition, at times) Red Mill Nursery was located along Capitol Trail just west of the intersection.However,I don't recall for sure if it extended all the way to the intersection. In the field behind the nursery (present-day Red Mill Farms) is where the Capitol Trail Football League played some of it's games during it's early years (late 1950s). The field was accessed from Red Mill Road.KC

    2. Larry, I am not sure which corner you mean. I lived in Roseville Park from 1960- 1971 and again in 1974-1976. If you were leaving the development, on the left was a gas station, I think Atlantic. On the right the side line of one of the residents properties ran a little way and then there was a small shopping area with a small delicatessen/luncheonette/general store (called ,maybe Roselle?) and a liquor store. If you mean the offices on the corner of Polly Drummond Road across from the White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, there were (I think) 2 or 3 houses there. My grandparents lived in one of them for a time when my mother was young, during the war. Donna

  2. I guess they were the houses. You can see buildings in the lower right corner of the picture above. Thanks Donna.