Hidden History: Neighbors share stories of historic Carver Village community

(WSAV) – Savannah’s Carver Village, once the largest individually-owned housing development for people of color in the world, has officially been recognized as a national landmark.

World War II veteran Henry Mack was one of the first people to move to Carver Garden when it was founded in the 1940s. He was 27 years old when he bought the foundation for his home at $4,500. Now, he’s 98.

“Wasn’t no Carver Village. I bought the foundation. They’d just started the housing. And they had a little shack across the street selling these properties and they were selling the foundation and I bought it. I ain’t put but $125 down,” Mack said.

Little did Mack know, the investment that he and others made more than 70 years ago would help raise generations. Some have left the neighborhood, but others – like Mack – stayed.

“But I’ve seen it grow from nothing to this,” he said.

Named after noted scientist, George Washington Carver, the historic neighborhood is located west of downtown Savannah, just beyond the on-ramp to Interstate 16. It was established to provide affordable housing for working-class African Americans.

With 600 homes, it was once known as the largest individually owned housing development for people of color in the world.

“We just lived like family out here during that time,” Mack said. “Everybody just like family.”

In its hay day, doctors, lawyers, teachers and even world-famous musicians were part of that family.

“Some of my best musician friends came from Carver Village. Jimmy Lloyd Brown from Brick – I played with his mother. She was from Carver Village,” said former resident Teddy Adams. He moved to Carver Village in 1960. “And the late Bobby Green – one of the best musicians that Savannah has produced was from Cubbedge Street.”

There were also several businesses in the area, including dry cleaners, grocery stores, and a day care center, according to former resident Richard Shinshoster. There was even a neighborhood baseball team.

“At that time, we didn’t have uniforms, but we were good,” Shinshoster said.

Now the nation is finally beginning to appreciate the value of Carver Village. Recently, the Historic Carver Village Neighborhood Association announced that the community has been placed on the Registry of Historic Places, making Carver Village a nationally recognized landmark.

The designation acknowledges the community’s history and contributions to Savannah. Those who live there hope the new distinction will reestablish a sense of pride among neighbors and solidify Carver Village as a cornerstone of the community.