Littlepage Terrace

The Manors of Charleston are as well known as Charleston itself. Orchard Manor, Washington Manor, and Littlepage Terrace have had their ups and downs, good days and bad.  The stigma attached to these places are much more-so today than when they were built.  The first two,  Littlepage in 1940 and about 9 months later Washington,  were an answer to the very poor people of the day.  Most people under 50 have never witnessed the kind of squalor that was common in the Charleston area back then.  From Slip Hill on Sissonville Road to North Charleston, to Blackhawk Hollow on the East end,  people lived sometimes like animals.  Most paid rent,  but it wasnt much and the conditions were deplorable.  These people needed help so that they and their families could have a clean safe place to live while they got their feet under them and economic conditions changed.

Those people were very grateful for the opportunity to move into one of these fine facilities.  (unlike many today who feel the government owes them).  And many kids who lived in the Manors went-on to become successful,  some even becoming millionaires.  As time went on and society changed, the Manors became a haven for criminals and thugs.  The REAL stigma started then.  In the meantime, the Manors have been, or are being revamped again.  I cant help but wonder how many people actually manage to get out today, and become successful like once upon a time.....

Orchard Manor

Orchard Manor

What would become Orchard Manor

This photo shows Washington Street West at Rt 21 in the 40s.   Notice the fine house in the background.  The property that would become Orchard Manor was owned by two families: The K.O. Priddy's and Mr. and Mrs. R.F . Irwin. The bulk of the land, roughly about 92 acres, was owned by the Priddy family,  heirs of the Adam Littlepage estate. The sloping woodland  tract was purchased at an estimated $200,000.  During construction of Orchard Manor, there was a huge landslide off the hillside.  There was some damage to construction already under way and plans had to be changed to accommodate the new terrain.

Orchard Manor

The most famous of the Manors was Orchard, even though it was the last one built in 1955

Orchard Manor

Orchard Manor

The rules and regulations made sure that people could live together.  Remember, some people who moved into the Manors had never seen indoor plumbing or even electricity.  Hard to believe but true.

Orchard Manor

Orchard Manor today after millions of dollars invested.




Littlepage was the first low income developement built.  It opened in 1940

Littlepage Terrace

This photo shows part of Littlepage Terrace facing  Rebbecca Street.  In the background you see the Littlepage home, the oldest stone residence in the valley.  Constructed in 1845  it is one of only six houses in Charleston that dates to before the American Civil War.  You also can see an old Charleston bus,  and  Bohnerts Flowers making a delivery to some lucky person while two girls walk home with their groceries.


Washington Manor

Washington Manor

Washington Manor on Clendenin Street opened about 9 months later. The manor faced the Elk River

Washington Manor

My grandparents lived in Washington Manor for a while.  Here I'm being held by my grandmother while my mom looks on.

Not everyone who lived in the Manors were destitute.  Fact is most had jobs and many both parents.   They simply didnt make enough money to pay full-blown rent or buy a house. They needed time to get their ducks in a row and move on.  Most did,  but as time went on,  many decided to stay generation after generation.  This is the common occurrence today I believe.

The New Deal and Washington Manor/Littlepage Terrace Public Housing Projects

The Washington Manor and Littlepage Terrace Housing Projects in Charleston, West Virginia were built ca. 1940 under the Works Progress Administration of the New Deal Program, which was implemented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as an economic boost for the United States during the Great Depression. He hoped to provide work for many of the unemployed as well as to develop state economies for the long term through recreation and infrastructure projects. The first wave of programs was developed during a period known as the "Hundred Days" under the Emergency Conservation Work Act (ECWA), beginning March 9, 1933. This first wave included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The second wave of programs under the ECWA began January 4, 1935, and included the Works Progress Administration (WPA). By President Roosevelt's order, the WPA was created in April 1935, and it became the largest New Deal agency.

The current stigma associated with public housing or low income housing was not prevalent in the 1930s. Instead, the goal of these housing programs was not only to provide employment but to help people too poor to buy homes but who were deemed worthy and deserving of help. The premise was that improving the physical environment of poorer citizens would improve their quality of life and chances for success, thus leading to better social behavior. That attitude was reflected in Washington Manor and Littlepage Terrace, which were thoughtfully laid out complexes that provided amenities for its residents such as laundry rooms with ironing stations, perambulator closets, outside drying yards and play areas, extensive landscaping plantings and a fountain basin for summertime use.

Littlepage Terrace was originally for white residents, and its sister housing project of Washington Manor was for white and black residents in separate sections. Occupants of the new project were families who had to meet a minimum income level of about $900 to $1,000 per year to qualify for residency. There were maximum income limits also, based on family size. The monthly rents at Littlepage Terrace ranged from $20 for 3 1/2 rooms to $21.25 for 6 rooms. Rents included steam heat, hot and cold water, electricity, and gas for cooking and refrigeration; the stove and refrigerator were also supplied. Although Littlepage Terrace did not actually replace a slum area, its residents were drawn from poverty affected areas in and around Charleston from Kanawha, Putnam and Clay Counties. In contrast to most existing low cost housing at the time, the new housing project offered apartments that were modern and clean, included utilities, had hot and cold water, and provided laundry rooms and play areas.


There were 170 units in the ten apartment buildings at Littlepage Terrace covering approximately eight acres, and each building contained a mix of one, two, and three bedroom units with either private entrances or a shared hallway entrance.. All buildings were three story, multi-colored blonde brick structures of the International style. Regardless of size, each unit had a living room, one bathroom, and a combined kitchen/dining room or kitchen with separate dining room. Buildings had interior bicycle racks and perambulator storage, and those with basements contained central laundry facilities, playrooms, and incinerators. The boiler and maintenance shops were housed together in the basement of one building. Outside there was a playground with a water basin for summer use.

The Housing Authority of the City of Charleston, purchased the bulk of the land for the Littlepage Terrace project from the Charleston National Bank in 1938, and the housing project was constructed ca. 1939. In addition to the land, CHA obtained the historic Littlepage Stone Mansion which was built in 1845 and individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Buildings at Littlepage Terrace were multi-colored blonde brick, three-stories tall, with and without basements in the International style. Buildings at Washington Manor were three stories tall of either red brick in the International style, or originally painted concrete block but changed ca. 1970 to faux red brick, yellow stucco and half timbering to simulate the Tudor Revival style.

Washington Manor was the first WPA public housing project for low income residents authorized in West Virginia and was designated Project No. WVA 1-1 by the USHA. Littlepage Terrace was Project No. WVA 1-2, and Mount Hope's Stadium Terrace was Project No. WVA 2-1. Although Washington Manor was designated as the first project, Littlepage Terrace was started first. The construction delay may have been caused because the land for Washington Manor had to be created from 62 lots obtained from individual property owners, whereas Littlepage Terrace was purchased from a bank as a large single tract plus small pieces from three individuals.

Two photos on this page courtesy of  Ron Kiser