Known for its rich heritage and beautiful green spaces, the Village of Greendale consistently ranks as a favorite small town to visit and a great place to live and work.
Greendale was originally developed in 1936 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the wake of the Great Depression. With the purchase of 3,400 acres of farmland southwest of Milwaukee’s city limits, the federal government’s Resettlement Administration had three main objectives: to demonstrate a new kind of suburban community which combined both city and country life, to provide good housing at reasonable rents, and to provide jobs to unemployed workers.
The site of the development, adjacent to beautiful Whitnall Park, was chosen for its gentle hills, thick wooded areas, and scenic ponds. One of three “Greenbelt” communities in the country, the historic village of Greendale was built on the “garden city” model, in which housing was situated within easy walking access of gardens, employment and a town center.
The original downtown area included the Village Hall, several businesses and 366 homes which included 572 living units. Single family homes, multi-family homes and rowhouses made of cincrete, a type of cinder block, were built to accommodate a mix of family sizes and income levels. Uniquely designed, the homes were positioned close to the street with the living room at the back of the house to allow residents a better view of their picturesque backyards. These quaint homes were often referred to as “Greendale Originals.” In 1949, the Public Housing Administration gave occupants of Greendale homes the first right to purchase them from the government and in many cases, the residents exercised this option. The transfer of ownership from the federal government was largely completed by the end of 1952.
Today, Greendale’s village center area is listed in the Nation and State Registers of Historic Places, with many buildings considered historically significant. Residents continue to enjoy lush green spaces, outstanding municipal services, thriving businesses and a highly rated school district. Community members are active in many local civic organizations, church groups and school committees where they volunteer their time and talents for the betterment of the Village. Visitors, and residents alike, savor the community’s heritage, and newcomers as well as founding families are committed to preserving Greendale’s rich history and small town charm.