Delmo Community Center

Delmo
Pemiscot County

The Delmo Community Center is located in the tiny community of Homestown in the Missouri boot heel.  It is a utilitarian style frame building clad in clapboard siding, and sits on a concrete block foundation.  While not a high style building, the Community Center is on the National Register of Historic Places , having its significance in the area of Politics/Government, Social History and Ethnic Heritage.  The community center was the historic, social and political center of Homestown, originally known as South Wardell. It was one of ten communities constructed by the Farm Security Administration for displaced sharecroppers and tenant farmers following the January 1939 roadside sharecropper demonstration in Southeast Missouri. The demonstration brought national attention to the plight of sharecroppers, and the construction of 10 Group Labor Home communities (6 for whites and 4 for blacks) was part of the compromise reached between federal and state governments, local planters and sharecroppers, and representatives from the Southern Tenant Farmers Union to alleviate poverty and unemployment among Southeast Missouri sharecroppers and farm laborers. Homestown, was the largest of the communities and was designated for use by African Americans. When Congress demanded the liquidation of all FSA properties in 1945, Delmo tenants and a group of St. Louis philanthropists organized the Delmo Housing Corporation to purchase the communities, and make the housing units available for sale to occupants. Though 8 of the 10 original Delmo communities are readily identifiable by their layout, most of the original 595 residential units have been demolished or extensively altered, and several of the communities have lost their original utility buildings/community centers. Though deteriorated, Homestown’s Delmo Community Center continues to be an important feature of Southeast Missouri’s Delmo communities, and represents an era of community building and social experimentation sponsored by the Federal government.

Listed in 2011 and as a watched property in 2012.

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